Camerata Brings Beer/Wine Hybrid Drink to Houston

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."

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.

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