Alesong Brewing in Eugene operates like a winery that just happens to brew beer.
written by Jeremy Storton | illustration by Allison Bye
It takes a lot of beer to make wine.
I hear this again and again from people in the wine industry. Despite this surprising collaboration, there are still strict wine devotees who claim to not like beer or, at least, not in formal settings. However, beer has more than a hundred styles and arguably more diverse flavor profiles than wine.
South of Eugene, Alesong Brewing and Blending operates like a winery that just happens to brew beer. In the heart of wine country, oak barrels line the tasting room that doubles as beer-release party central, replete with cheese pairings. By collaborating with its neighbor, King Estate Winery, it further blurs the division between beer and wine. “I love wine and wine does go well with cheese,” explained head brewer Matt Van Wyk. “But beer, having the four main ingredients plus extra things we’re adding, like grapes in one of our beers, apricots in another one of our beers and cocoa in another, it just gives you more to work with as a pairing.”
Gary Fish, of Deschutes Brewery, once shared with me the concept of the “Share of Mouth.” Fish told me, “We know statistically and empirically that our core consumer moves back and forth between beer, wine and whiskey.” If this math is correct, then we Oregonians have a wonderful emulsion of choice at our fingertips. We need only explore a different kind of bottle.
Beer and Wine Pairings
In a state filled with incredible beer and wine, why pick one team? Here are some beer for wine crossovers that reach hands across the aisle, so to speak.
1. 10 Barrel’s Crush Berliner Weisse (any flavor) for Champagne. Napoleon called German Berliner Weisse the “Champagne of the north,” and it works well with Sunday brunch.
2. Mazama Brewing’s Deadline Pils for pinot gris. Both are crisp, acidic and refreshing. Great with goat cheese.
3. Good Life Brewing’s Sweet As Pacific Ale for a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Both have a crisp acidity with tropical flavors. Perfect pairing
4. Breakside Wanderlust IPA for a syrah. Both have a lot of complex character and balance to the bitterness. Surprisingly amazing with bleu cheese.
5. Alesong’s Terroir: Pinot Gris (a collaboration with King Estate Winery) for an Oregon pinot noir. Both can be very complex and offer up flavors of fruit, earth and spice. Great with grilled chicken.
6. Sunriver Brewing’s Fuzztail Hefe for an unoaked chardonnay. Both show balanced fruit profiles with a rich, creamy texture and a crisp finish. Excellent
7. Three Creeks’ Five Pine Chocolate Porter for a cabernet. Both are rich, dark and delightful with notes of dark fruit and astringent bitter chocolate. Perfect with grilled meat with a coffee and cocoa rub.
8. Ninkasi Brewing Co’s Pacific Rain for a red blend. It is balanced and interesting, yet easy drinking. Pair with just about anything.
9. Rogue’s Old Crustacean Barley Wine for brandy. Best paired with a snifter … and some friends.
10. Cascade Brewing’s Sang Noir (Imperial Red Ale with Bing cherries aged in bourbon and wine barrels for two years) for port. Drink from a Teku or wine glass by itself or pair it with a chocolate soufflé.