Last year we shipped wine grapes to almost 100 breweries across the US and Canada!
They say beer was invented and wine was discovered. The first evidence of brewing dates back to 7000 BC China, where residues from a jar indicate a fermented beverage that contained rice, honey, and fruit (likely grapes). So some of the first beers brewed were probably made with grapes.
The first evidence of deliberate winemaking comes from Georgia (not the state) in 6000 BC. Those early winemakers chose to use grapes because grapes offer the rare combination of being both high in sugar and high in acid which creates a more potent and more durable beverage. Modern winemakers have learned to use to grape skin contact during fermentation to extract desired colors and tannins.
TLDR: Wine grapes are nature’s perfect fermenter and are ideally suited for brewing beers in the fastest growing categories of the beer market.
The same qualities that make grapes the perfect fruit for making wine with also make grapes the perfect fruit for brewing beer with. The high sugar content increases your brew’s potential ABV. The high acidity increases freshness and sourness. And fermenting on grape skins offers more color and intensity of mouthfeel.
But in the 1500’s the Bavarians passed the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Act) and fruit beers have not been very popular ever since. Luckily that’s all changing and brewers are venturing away from the traditional barley, water, and hops recipe. In fact, “Sour Beer” and “Other Beer” were the two fastest growing categories of beer sales from July 2017 to July 2018 according to Nielsen data.
Sour Beer sales grew over 40% in that period and have ample room for growth. Other Beer sales grew 11%. Fruit beers fit neatly into
both those categories and are poised for even more growth in 2019. The third fastest category of growth in the beer market was in IPA, which has seen tremendous growth over the past decade. Wine grapes also happen to complement IPA’s perfectly as the bitterness imparted by the hops is balanced out by the sour and sweet and nature of wine grapes.
We’re looking forward to seeing all of you brewers again in Denver this April at the 2019 Craft Brewers Conference!