The Imbibing Scribe: Red & White & Empty

So, in this column, I usually write about some seasonally appropriate beer that’s a bit off the beaten path. But, some months, I just don’t know what beer to write about. In those months, I use The Imbibing Scribe as an excuse to drink an old favorite I haven’t had in a while. And so it is with this month. Behold the wonders of Dogfish Head’s Red & White.

I first had Red & White, I think, in its initial year, 2006. It’s an interesting beer in all the right ways. It’s big, sweet, flavorful. But, what made it unique at the time, and what it still does well, is add some wine flavor into the mix.

The Dogfish Head website describes Red & White as a combination of “the refreshing citrusy qualities of a Belgian-style white beer with the robust complexity of a red wine.” From the sound of it, the founder, Sam Calagione, was at a party and mixed pinot noir and a Belgian white ale, and liked it so much he perfected the mix. So, they brew a big Belgian ale, mix in pinot noir juice and ferment the sucker. The result is refreshingly wine-y. You can taste the grapes, but the sweetness melds really nicely with the white ale. Witbier is a sweeter style to begin with, so it matches very well. You can pair it with anything you would pair a sweet red wine with: grilled meat, fish, a crisp early spring evening, a glass, Doritos. It really makes anything better.

Not every one of Dogfish Head’s experiments and odd combination beers work. Many of them basically taste the same: kind of sweet, fruity, boozy…tasty, but ultimately, meh (to use the technical term). But this one just tastes delicious. Red & White is the kind of beer that makes you want to sit, sip and breathe. It’s a relaxation motivator. Maybe it’s the pinot noir, but it brings the spirit of the French countryside out in everyone. It makes you slow down. Consider things. Wax philosophical. It makes you ask yourself big questions, like, “Is that bottle empty?” Or, “Do I own another bottle?”

In that vein, ask yourself the following questions: Do I like witbier? Do I like pinot noir? If you answer yes to both of those, find yourself a bottle of Red & White. Sit and enjoy.

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