Beer made for a wine drinker feels like a weird proposition: Isn’t beer or wine enough? Do people really crave something that taste like both? Perhaps. In recent years, more craft brewers have embraced vineyards as a source of inspiration and vice versa, from Brut IPAs to hopped wines. Firestone Walker Brewing Company has long been a leader in this field, since the Paso Robles, CA brewer sits smack in the middle of a beloved wine community. “[Founders Adam Walker and David Firestone] spent their whole lives in wine,” brewmaster Matt Brynildson told October last year. “And so [Firestone Walker] can be more influenced by the wine industry than the beer industry.”
Firestone Walker therefore is no stranger to limited, experimental beer-wine hybrids, but with the space getting more attention than ever, this year the brewer decided to go mainstream with a year-round “beer rosé” called Rosalie.
Appearance and Aroma
Rosalie certainly looks the part. This beer closely resembles a sparkling rosé—it has a dark pink hue that is almost the same tone as the darker tones used in the illustration on the can. Like a good sparkling wine, the bubbles stick around a bit. Rosalie does carry its rosé elements to a drinker’s nose, too, but it’s immediately obvious that this drink will be a bit tarter. If the looks deceived you, the aroma gives away the fact a sour beer is in store.
My partner drinks red wine for most of the year but happily opts for rosé in the Texas summers, and she got about halfway through a can of Rosalie before deciding she’d rather drink one or the other.”
Firestone Walker made Rosalie by starting with a pilsner and white wheat base and co-fermenting it with Chardonnay and a few other wine grape varieties as well as hibiscus to boost the color. The first sip is straight rosé, albeit with a sour tone. The wine aspects seem to become more prominent as you continue drinking, and I may have even liked it better as the beer warmed slightly and more closely mimicked how I typically drink wine.
Unlike a wine barrel-aged stout or a hopped rosé, it’s hard to immediately tell who Rosalie is made for. My partner drinks red wine for most of the year but happily opts for rosé in the Texas summers, and she got about halfway through a can of Rosalie before deciding she’d rather drink one or the other. I tend to agree after working through a six-pack throughout the last month. Firestone Walker continues to experiment at the bleeding edge of what separates two of everyone’s favorite drinks, but I’ll be more likely to reach for a citrus-y white ale or traditional rosé going forward.