Cascade The Vine ’08:
This ale changes slightly with each vintage. The Portland brewery starts with a Northwest-style sour ale base that is a blend of soured Triple, Blonde Quad and Golden ales that have been refermented with the fresh pressed juice of Niagara grapes. The beer pours a slightly hazy dark gold with a nice white foam. The sour ale is balanced amazingly well by the residual sugar of the Niagara grapes. If you have found sour ales tend to lean too much towards the tart side, you might want to give this one a try.
Empire Brewing in Syracuse Deep Purple:
Empire Brewing uses Concord grape concentrate from the Finger Lakes Growers Cooperative in a beer that has a distinctive bright purple hue and a thin purple-red head. There is no missing the Concord grapes in this one. The flavor is upfront and direct. But instead of being overly sweet, the ale starts to go dry in mid-palate. The finish is more tart than the initial aroma and flavor would suggest, with a slight hint of the wheat beer acidity.
Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale:
This beer pours a nice golden color with a fluffy white head. The beer has flavors coming from a number of angles, making it difficult to pick out the wine components that come from three very different grape styles: muscat, gewurztraminer and sauvignon blanc. Does the spice come from the Belgian yeast of the gewurztraminer? Is the sweetness from the muscat or is it Belgian candy sugar? In the end, this is quite a different beer and worth trying if you happen to find a bar that is running vertical tastings of the Stone series.
Rick Lyke is the founder of the Pints for Prostates men's health awareness campaign. www.pintsforprostates.org.