Winemakers say it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine; I usually say the opposite. Wine and wine making have always been an inspiration for me as a brewer and it is very ingrained in our brewing philosophy at Alesong. So naturally we make several wine inspired beers and Pinot Spontanée is the next to come out. Pinot Spontanée was spontaneously fermented on Pinot Noir from Benton Lane winery and aged in French oak before conditioning in the bottle for nearly four months prior to release.
This was a really awesome project because it enabled me to treat a beer much more like a wine than I had ever done before. After hand picking Pommard clone pinot noir from Benton Lane Winery we cold soaked the fruit prior to de-stemming. The whole clusters were de-stemmed into a small open top fermenter and our Lambic inspired wort was knocked out directly onto the fruit. Unlike most beers, we did not pitch yeast, but allowed the natural yeast on the fruit to inoculate the wort, which started fermenting after a couple days. The fermenting beer was left on the fruit until terminal gravity was reached about a month later and we “punched down” the cap twice daily throughout the fermentation. After primary fermentation was complete, the beer was racked off the fruit and into some of our “newer” French oak barrels where it matured until it was ready for bottling.
Pinot Spontanée pours vibrant red, reminiscent of a rosé of Pinot Noir, and the nose is bright and bursting with oak and Pinot character. The tight bubbles dissipate quickly like Champagne and it is slightly acidic on the tongue with flavors of both pinot noir and our Lambic-inspired wort. This beer tastes more like a carbonated rosé than a beer and is only going to get better with age.