Same-Same yet Different - The Exploration of Beer and Wine
At the most basic level, making beer and wine is the same. Ingredients, like barley or grapes, break down into fermentable sugars, sit around for a while with some yeast, and viola—booze. Despite their similar processes, beer and wine are obviously very different drinks. But why is that? We are going to break down some of the key differences between them and discover how they can be same-same, yet different.
Alcohol Content - Wine has an average alcohol content of 12% ABV, which is more than beer—most of the time. Of course, there are the cases of extremely high ABV beers (looking at you Avery and The Bruery), but most beer styles come in between 3-10%. The main reason that wine has a higher ABV is because it takes longer to ferment. Grape juice that is used to ferment wine has a lot more sugars than the grains used for beer. Meaning, the yeast has more sugars to convert into alcohol, which takes more time. The grape juice is also immediately available for the yeast to convert, while grains must be milled and cooked into wort before the process can begin. Aging wine, whether in bottles or barrels, does not add to the overall ABV. It all happens during the fermentation process.
*Note that this information is on a general level. Specific fermentation times can vary depending on the styles being made.
Ingredients & Flavors - Grain, one of beer’s key ingredients, can create a wide range of flavors. Different grains (barley, wheat, rye, etc.) and how roasted it may be can greatly affect the final product.
Different styles of wine usually require a specific variety of grape, and the processing of those grapes even affects the style. White wine has a lighter color and flavor because it requires that the grapes be peeled before crushing. Red wines are darker and more robust because the skins remain on the grapes.
Besides the key ingredients, there are the many additives to both beer and wine that are used to enhance flavors or create signature characteristics. Obviously we’re talking about hops for beer and oak for wine. Both ingredients have become so characteristic of their respective drinks that they are considered crucial to the process.
Wine Cleaning Tips
Cleaning is one of the most important aspects of wine-making, just as it is with beer. Improperly cleaned equipment can quickly result in a low quality drink with off flavors. When it comes to manufacturing equipment, we always recommend a 3-step process; clean, acid, sanitize.
Clean - Before beginning any cleaning process, it is important to thoroughly rinse your equipment. Trust us, it’ll make everything so much easier when you do. Any part of the equipment that can be broken down, such as gaskets and hoses, to wash separately. Our go-to Alkaline cleaner is PBW with its full spectrum power. PBW is safe on equipment and works in a wide range of water temperatures and low concentrations. Caustic cleaners are more powerful, though can be hazardous when it comes in contact with skin or specific metals.
Acid - After equipment has been cleaned of all residues, oils, and heavy soils, it’s time for acid washing. Acid detergents are great at removing water scale, aluminum oxide, and fighting bacteria. We recommend using Phosphoric acids at high temperatures for copper and Nitric/Phosphoric blends for stainless steel such as Acid #5 and Acid #6 dependent on the application.
Sanitize - One of the most important parts of any cleaning process is sanitization. This step stops mold and other harmful contaminants from using your equipment as a breeding ground. Chemical sanitizers only work on clean and dry equipment. Depending on the materials, we recommend Saniclean or IO-Star.
Before we move on from cleaning, let’s take a minute to talk about barrels. It is not recommended to clean oak barrels in between batches of wine. This can cause it to lose its flavor enhancing capabilities and shorten its lifespan. If barrels are ever cleaned, it is only once every few years.
2022 Wine Trends
Rosé all day—or year - Rosé has been on trend for a few years, but strangely enough it has been deemed a drink for the summer. In 2022, we expect to see its rise in popularity extend past the summer months and into Fall and Winter. Lower ABV drinks have become a trend across the board for all alcoholic beverages, and wine is no different.
Our Pick: Summer in a Bottle Long Island Rosé by Wolffer Estate in New York - The sheer irony of this wine being called “Summer in a Bottle” as we speak of rosé’s rising year round popularity is partly why we chose this one. Aside from that, however, this wine is balanced, made in America, and a great value. It’s fruity, it’s delicious, and it pairs perfectly with a wide variety of foods.
Skin contact wines - While the name may be… strange, skin contact wines have burst through the wine scene recently. These wines are white wines that are made in the style of reds. Meaning, the white wine grapes are crushed into juice with their skins on. The result is often a vibrant orange wine with a bold aroma and more robust flavor.
Our Pick: Skins by Field Recordings Wine in California - Another clever name for the style with this one. This skin contact, or orange wine, brings out the complexity of white wine grapes while still holding on to their delicate nature. Goes great with spicy foods and other robust flavors.
Supply chain shortages - We hate to see it. Supply chain shortages are still a thing as the world attempts to recover from Covid. Not only that, the wine industry is still suffering from the devastating Napa fires in 2020, America’s wine region. This has caused a shortage of a lot of fan favorites wines. With the spotlight forced away from the classic wine regions of the world, some of the underdogs have come into the game.
Our Pick: Cinsault by Lost Draw Cellars in Texas - Wait, Texas, and wine? Yes, you heard that right, y’all. This spicy red wine packs a punch with grapes from the Texas High Plains and is sure to please. Looking for a new wine region? Look no further than The Lone Star State.