Wednesday, 9 January 2008

New Drinks for 2008 - Wine Versus Beer

Wine is eclipsing Beer in popularity partly because wine is the model of the good life – it represents traditional fine living and the Mediterranean healthy food orientated life style. Wine symbolises passion, spontaneity and bounty whereas Beer is simply a drink. Now Beer producers are fighting back with a range of herb and fruit infused Beers which are targeted to halt Beer's dwindling sales.

Germany based Wild began manufacturing fruit flavours for beer last year, and now hopes to expand its presence in the market with new products such as pomegranate and lulo (a light green fleshy fruit from South America. Lulo also offers some nutritional benefits due to its high calcium, phosphorous and iron content as well as vitamins B, C and provitamin A. According to the company, beer drinkers are moving away from the more traditional, bitter taste of beer, pushing brewers to look for intense fruit flavours that can be married with the existing malt or hop qualities of ales and lagers.

France-based Aromatech has launched its BeMix flavours - from coconut green tea, tequila, whisky and apple to raspberry - in response to the declining traditional beer sales. Aromatech said its mix includes 22 flavours and have been tasted and validated by a consumer panel made up of 102 people from 13 different countries. They come under the names BeMIX Spirit for lager beer, BeMIX Twist for white beer and vodka or rum flavoured with vanilla or chocolate. BeMIX Fruity is a white beer with fruit.

Other producers such as the Russian River Brewing Company and Allagash Brewing Company are offering beer aged in oak barrels like wine. This is a trick borrowed from the Belgians, adds intriguing wood and vanilla notes (and tangy fruit, when old wine barrels are used).

Exotic beers from abroad are also hoping to revive the flagging taste buds of beer drinkers. Kinshachi’s Red Miso Lager contains miso which is a rich, salty condiment that is used in Japanese cooking. To make miso, soy beans and sometimes a grain such as rice or wheat are combined with salt and a mould culture, and then aged in cedar vats for 1 - 3 years. Interestingly Miso is very healthy; it contains isoflavones, saponins, soy protein and live enzymes. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (June 18, 2003) showed that women who consumed three or more bowls of miso soup daily reduced their risk of getting breast cancer by about 40% compared with those who had only one bowl. The only negative health aspect of miso is it high salt content. They also produce Blue Pilsner which has citrus flavours.

Kiuchi Brewery's Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout contains coffee – (I presume Hitachino means Owl in Japanese as there is one on the label.) Kiuchi Brewery has had quite a lot of success in the USA where there is a loyal following for its brews. Not surprisingly Kiuchi say that they are soon to make wine, having bought 4000 square metres of land next to the brewery. They plan to plant Merlot and Chardonnay grapes imported from France.

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