Camerata Brings Beer/Wine Hybrid Drink to Houston

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Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
Pictured is the Equilibrista, along with the bottles in which the as yet unnamed concoction is served.
There isn't a name for it, David Keck, head wine guy at Camerata, tells me. At least not yet.

Beer produced by spontaneous fermentation with wild yeast is a lambic. Wine with quite a bit of carbon dioxide caused by fermentation is sparkling. This wine/beer hybrid is a bit new to have a name, perhaps. The different varieties, produced by Italian brewer Birra de Borgo, have names like Caos and Equilibrista, but unlike Champagne, saison beer, hefeweizen or rosé, the product itself doesn't have a name. It's too innovative, too new.

"It's really like a rosé sparkling wine mixed with a saison beer," Keck says by way of explanation. "It has that earthy, spicy quality of a saison. I think they're not for everyone, though. They've got a certain flavor profile that's different from what people are expecting."

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Not for wine purists. Or beer purists. For the people who like a little something different, for better or for worse.
I'm sitting at the bar at Camerata sipping on a ... whatever you call it ...
The color of the Equilibrista, the more wine-like of the two, is similar to a rosé, and it has the funky, almost sour quality of a saison. But then, on the back end, there's a bit of almost metallic tannin, like you might find in a dry red wine.

This one, the Equilibrista, is a blend of 50 percent Duchessa, a Birra del Borgo saison, mixed with the must of Sangiovese grapes. The must is the pulpy stuff containing grape seeds and skins that you get while making wine. It smells coppery, like pennies, and it has the acidity of a dry white wine. Beyond that description, you kind of have to try it for yourself.

Camerata is carrying Caos, also made by Birra del Borgo, which the company calls "a new experiment on the 'wine meets beer' theme." It's bottle fermented using Champagne yeasts, which means the liquid isn't done fermenting when it's bottled. The chemical process continues to take place in the bottle, creating carbon dioxide that becomes trapped as bubbles, and also giving the finished product a dry, frothy head.

Unlike the Equilibrista, the Caos has only 25 percent wine must (from a different grape called Malvasia), as opposed to 50 percent must, so it's a little more on the beer side than wine side.

Personally, I prefer the Equilibrista, but it's definitely not for everyone. They'll be at Camerata until they run out, which might be by the end of the week. Unless no one is drinking them, because they are pretty weird. Still, in the spirit of adventure, I suggest you try them both.

And then, maybe you can be the one to finally give this unusual combination a name.


Location Info

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Camerata at Paulie's

1834 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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9 comments
Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

A brewery called Cantillon in Belgium has been brewing things like this for quite a while.


And what about Champale?

Anse
Anse

A recent issue of the home brewer's magazine I subscribe to had an article about these. There are some craft brewers in the U.S. who are experimenting. Apparently there are some real challenges with trying to control the natural yeasts that occur on wine grapes and how they interact with the wort in fermentation. I'm intrigued by this idea, though it doesn't sound as radical as it might upon first consideration. Brewers have added fruit to beer for centuries. I'm kind of surprised this marriage of beer and wine doesn't already have a long tradition in one of those lovely old European cultures.

klipsch
klipsch

@Bruce_Are

Champale!! Yes! Along with a Tareyton smokes pitched by Telly Savalas. 

Who loves you baby, a parade of '70s memories.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@VanessaT.B.

I could be wrong, but I do not think Cantillon is distributed in Texas. It's easy to find in other states though.

Houston just started learning about sour beers so when Cantillon Geuze arrives it will be a sour wakeup call.

davidlkeck
davidlkeck

@Bruce_Are @VanessaT.B.  and there are lambic made with grapes, but not the same thing entirely-- at least that's what Cantillon does. And Dogfishhead has been playing around as well. This is the first time that I've seen straight-up 50% beer 50% wine

davidlkeck
davidlkeck

@Bruce_Are @VanessaT.B.  It's not because we haven't been asking! Yet another example of a beverage stopping in SF and NYC. Birra del Borgo actually does a project with Cantillon...which also stops in New York. It was a huge victory to get the beers (and ciders and sakes and wine!) from B. United into Texas, but took over a year. Baby steps...

james.brock
james.brock

@Bruce_Are @VanessaT.B.  When I lived in Germany we occasionally -- if traveling in certain regions -- were served wine mixed with beer (where I lived it was coke and beer). 

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