There are definitely some changes going on in the world of alcoholic beverages. While wine has been king of the “tasting” – the huge number of quality craft breweries and beer tasting rooms that have opened up may be changing the game.
I want to make one thing clear right off the bat. I love wine—red wine, white wine, sparkling wine; I love it all. I also love wine tasting. Some of my favorite vacations to places like the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and California wine regions like Sonoma, Santa Ynez, and Paso Robles, have all involved wonderful wine tasting experiences. But, over the past few years I’ve been going more with my husband (who LOVES beer) to do beer tastings at breweries and I’ve found that in some ways beer tasting is better than wine tasting (Just writing that makes me feel a little like I’m cheating on wine). Here are five reasons beer tasting might be superior to wine tasting.
1 — Freedom of Flavors
I’m amazed by the variety of beers: wheat Saisons, hoppy IPA’s, nutty, malty ESBs, smoky porters, chocolatey stouts, sours and more. The ingenuity in craft beer-making right now is stunning. Not only is the variety endless, but brewmakers are applauded by the industry for trying unique things. Unlike wine which tends to stay more in its own lane (before I get hate mail, I totally know there is a lot of creativity going on in the wine industry), beer has this incredible freedom that wine doesn’t have. Want to add fruit? Tangerine to your IPA? Fantastic! How about some chocolate or coffee? Great! What about some spicy peppers? Not really my jam, but go for it! All the variety, the excitement in new flavors makes wine tasting just a little mundane in comparison.
2 — Tasting for the Masses – The Fun Factor
Let’s face it, Napa Valley cultivates a certain type of visitor. I love Napa, but its not overly accessible to the masses. (Though some might actually like that about wine, but that’s for another post). Not so with breweries. Even though the majority of breweries (at least in cities like San Diego) are in office parks (for zoning regulations), they are doing an incredible job of making their tasting rooms a fun experience. In San Diego particularly, places like Stone Brewing (multiple locations) and Belching Beaver have built really remarkable beer gardens with great food to pair with the beer. A lot of brewers that don’t have their own food will have a food truck or taco cart come in just to make it a full experience with food and beer. Breweries offer an inviting, unpretentious world where people of all ages, and demographics come together to taste and enjoy beer.
3 — The Cost to Bring a Bottle Home
This is something that my husband likes to remind me about often: the cost of wine vs. beer. Though you can certainly buy a barrel-aged beer that can run you in the 20-30$ range, most good bottles of beer will run 15$ and under. Not so with wine, rarely can you find anything worthwhile for under 20$ especially sold at a winery.
4 — Delicious Lower Alcohol Options
After tasting at a winery or two, I have nearly hit my limit, especially if I’m trying some big 15-16% alcohol Cabs or Zinfandels. In contrast, brewers offer many lower alcohol options that you can try in the 3-5% range. If you are in the mood for a big boozy 13% ABV Stout, they have that too, but you can also pare down and not miss out by keeping to the lower alcohol options like IPAs (which run around 6-8%)
5 — No Need to Travel – Just Find a Brewery Around You
Most cities at least in the U.S. now have at least one craft brewery (or more than 140 in San Diego!). Wineries are much more difficult to get to for most people. Beer tasting can be a spur of the moment thing, an after-work meeting place, a date location. Just the other day my husband and I had a few kid-free hours and visited a few new places in our area. Additionally, similar to wine tasting tours, there are brewery tours cropping up where a bus or van will take you from brewery to brewery (great for a bachelor or bachelorette party or a birthday).
So you are probably thinking, wow, she’s really into beer! I am and I’m not. Quite frankly, 9 out of 10 times I will still pick wine over beer. Beer is definitely growing on me, but wine still has my heart.
Two reasons why wine still has my heart
Wineries Beat Breweries on Location
Sorry brewers, but no beer garden can compete with the rolling hills of a vineyard. Driving through a wine region is just breathtaking. Some of my favorite trips have been sitting with a glass of wine in hand looking out over a grapevine-covered valley.
Because wine, duh
I just love wine. Beer, you are definitely moving up, but wine, you still have my heart.