Once again, Labor Day is just a few days away and for many of you, that means enjoying the last vestiges of summer. For California vintners, Labor Day signals the beginning of harvest, also known as ‘crush.’ Throughout September and October, winemakers and their teams are on-call 24/7, deciding when to pick, picking, getting the fruit into the winery without any harm, pressing the grapes, inoculating the juice and fermenting what is going to hopefully become delicious wine.
There is a saying that it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine. I know a few wine drinkers who don’t drink beer for one reason or another, but I don’t know any winemakers who refrain from a good brew. During the long, hot and arduous hours of crush, beer can be a savior for some of our most talented producers. Paying homage to some of these folks, I am going to recommend some of my favorite beers that wine drinkers will love.
Coopers Sparkling Ale: This is Australia’s oldest family-owned brewery, established by Thomas Cooper in 1862. Located in South Australia, it is not too far from some of the famed wine regions near Adelaide. The Sparkling Ale was one of the original beers made by Thomas Cooper and it makes a statement. Top-fermented, it goes through a second fermentation in the bottle that gives it a cloudy sediment. It is a bit intense, yet at the same time, fresh, fruity, slightly bitter and always
satisfying. Retail price: $11.99 per six-pack
Czechvar Premium Czech Lager: In Europe, this beer is known as “Budvar,” but, given the similarity of its name to another popular beer, it is called Czechvar in the United States. I was first introduced to this beer in London many moons ago and it is one of the few beers my British friends would drink chilled. With a floral, hoppy aroma and refreshing citrus and mineral flavors, this lager will make the snobbiest of wine drinkers think twice about beer. Retail price: $9.99 per six-pack
Affligem Blonde Ale: The Affligem Abbey put a stake in the ground in 1074 and it has remained there, more or less, ever since. Still functioning as a Benedictine monastery, it now has a farm as well as the brewery. You won’t find a better beer for the money. Light but fully flavored with hints of orange spice and nuts, the ale is a delicious way to end a day of stomping on grapes. Retail price: $10.99 per six-pack
Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.