Malcolm Jolley enjoys the Bière de Garde made by Radical Road Brewing with Malivoire Wine.

Stephen Gash, Director at the Malivoire Wine Company, sent me a bottle of beer. It’s called the Revolution 81 Bière de Garde and it’s made with Malivoire’s old vines Marechal Foch wine, then double fermented, with Champagne yeast, in a proper heavy gauge 750 ml sparkling wine bottle (though with a proper beer bottle crown cap). I called him to find out more…

On the phone, Gash explained that Malivoire had sold some barrels to Radical Road a few years ago, which is apparently not an unusual thing. He and the crew at Malivoire, including winemaker Shiraz Mottiar didn’t think much of it until a subsequent conversation a few years which included Proprietor and founder Martin Malivoire, Mottiar, Gash and Radical Road’s brewmaster Simon Da Costa and Julian Holland. They discussed how hot and dynamic the province’s craft beer scene is at the moment, and how far along the wine industry had come, and decided to see if they could collaborate on a project. Da Costa and Holland said they were interested in making a Belgian-style ’Bière de Garde’, a beer to hold, or put down, as in age in a cellar. Wine, they figured would make an interesting component in such a brew and the idea for Revolution 81 was hatched.

Gash said it took a year to develop the beer, tasting different components and combinations, settling on adding wine made from Malivoire’s Old Vines Marechal Foch – composing 22% of what’s in the bottle. That combination of beer and wine is then fermented again, using Champagne yeast, and conditioned in the bottle. The beer, true to its name, is meant to be age worthy, although Gash says it’s drinking very well now.

I agree! I tried the Revolution 81 Bière de Garde from Radical Road brewery recently and I really enjoyed it. It has a fruit quality and an acidic tang that, I presume is the wine at work.But under that is a hoppy bitterness, that I really like. And it’s held together by fine mousse, and as it settles down there is a slight barrel note. Lots going on, but it’s all going down smoothly. I’d happy split a bottle, with a cheese and charcuterie plate, with a hop-head and a wino and see what elements each preferred.

Anyway it’s great fun, and I suggest trying one from the Radical Road brewery in Lesleyville at 1177 Queen Street East, while supplies last.