I have in front of me right now an article by noted wine writer Tony Aspler. It came from the Canadian wine mag, Tidings, and ran in the July/August issue. So why am I telling you this? Because it struck enough of a chord with me that I ripped from said magazine and stuck it in with a bunch of material gathered during one of my summer voyages.
Tony was writing about blends in wine and how the New World is finally turning from its varietal-is-all approach to wine making, developing blends along lines both traditional and untraditional. On the whole, he seems to think – and I wholeheartedly agree – that it’s a good thing.
As it is in beer, I should add. You may have heard tell of some of these babies lately – the Firestone Walker anniversary series, for example, which is typically a blend of four major and several other minor beers, or Brewery Ommegang’s Three Philosophers. And I’m betting you’ll be hearing of more, perhaps many more, in the months and years to come.
The equation behind this practice is simple enough. If a brewer can get a degree of complexity and flavour in a single beer, then he or she might well be able to coax an even greater degree of character from a combination of multiple, complementary beers. Look at it as simply a way to gain even greater stylistic diversity from the wonderful world of beer.
Some may scoff while others recoil in sanctimonious horror, but it’s a practice that is both innovative and traditional – think lambics, among many other old styles – and which, so far at least, has yielded results that are far more impressive than they are disappointing.
It’s also yet another reminder that, even amid continued snobbery and derision from both sides of the great divide, there’s really not all that much difference between beer and wine.