When I first began writing in magazines about wine I was very excited to meet winemakers. I had toured wineries and learned all about the process involved in turning grapes into bottles of very good beverage, but meeting the people who actually made that beverage was something else again. And so it stuck in my mind when I interviewed a winemaker (who has since become a very good friend) and I asked, “Is there anything you absolutely have to have to make good wine?” and he immediately responded “Beer. It takes a lot of beer to make a good wine.”
Having spent hundreds of days at wineries since that time, I can confirm, it does take a lot of beer to make good wine. At the end of a long day dragging bins of grapes to the crusher or hauling heavy hoses among the tanks or tasting through dozens of young and terribly tannic samples of wine in the works, a winemaker wants something cold, refreshing and not wine. I do too and so it’s very fitting that we kick off VeritageMiami each year not with a wine event but with a craft beer tasting.
Consumers have sometimes seen beer drinkers and wine drinkers as two different groups, but the geek in me wants to emphasize that we are the same group. I’m just as fascinated by how yeast influences flavor, how different types of hops impact the texture of a beer, how the type of grain and where it was grown affect the finished brew. It’s the same as it is with wine – the final product is a coalescence of influences and whether we call it terroir in wine or grain source in beer, we still have a huge range of variables that give us a wonderfully satisfying variety of flavors, aromas and textures when we get our lips on the liquid.
We’ll have more than 100 different beers on tap (figuratively speaking, though literally in many cases as well) at the Craft Beer Tasting that kicks off VeritageMiami in Wynwood on Wednesday, April 15. We have large producers like Hoegaarden and Stella Artois and Yuengling, and we are pouring local artisanal producers including Wynwood Brewing Company and J. Wakefield and Islamorada Beer Company. We have dozens of others of all sizes, and some cider producers as well. Forget whether you already think you are or are not a beer drinker – this evening is about fun (because 25 restaurants are going to feed you while you slosh from brewery table to brewery table), flavor (because a tasting is about taste, after all) and philanthropy. It’s philanthropy for you because the entire evening is reasonably priced (just $50) and charitable for the community because it supports the important work of United Way of Miami-Dade.
If you are at all interested in the intricacies of beer, we also have very special opportunity with our good friend Evan Benn, a beer expert familiar to readers of the Miami Herald and Esquire Magazine. Evan has selected a group of distinctive craft beers and he is going to be discussing (and pouring!) them at a table at the Craft Beer Tasting – this is a stop you cannot miss.
The Interactive Dinner on Friday, April 17, is already sold out and the other events are selling quickly so don’t wait until the last minute – book your tickets online. Check out the list of many of the breweries participating in the tasting at Wynwood Walls, and please note – we are adding more every day.
I have yet to hear a brewer say it takes a lot of wine to make a good beer, but I’m working on that…
See you at Wynwood Walls in two weeks!