In this installment of From Beer to There, we’ll be talking about a couple heavy hitters. Our cabernet sauvignon based, Bordeaux-style blend, 2015 Lieb Reserve Meritage, and one of my favorite styles of beer, Imperial Stouts. As they’re both big, bold and full of flavor, it just makes sense to draw comparisons between the two.
The term “Meritage” originated in California, when winemakers started crafting wines in a blended style similar to those in Bordeaux and felt they needed a recognizable name for the category. The name stems from the words “merit” and “heritage” and was conceived in a contest created to name the new blended wines. So, what makes a Meritage a Meritage? The wine must be made from at least two of the these grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenere. And no varietal can be more than 90% of the blend. Our 2015 Lieb Reserve Meritage blend consists of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petite Verdot and 2% Malbec. This wine carries rich notes of black berry, dark cherry, dark chocolate and a hint of smoky spice. I love this wine for its full body and punchy flavors. It’s a sensual pleasure to drink and also to pair with a nice piece of grilled meat.
So when thinking about a beer to compare to our Meritage, the imperial stout came to mind for two reasons. First, the body. Imperial stouts drink with a slight viscosity that’s reminiscent of a big bodied Meritages. Like many other beers, this style has its roots in England. During the 18th century it was born out of a need for a hearty stout that could withstand long shipping routes to the Baltic and Russia. The imperial stout is big, roasty and full of flavor, usually carrying a higher ABV than almost any other beer. The second reason imperial stouts remind me of our Meritage is the flavor profile. Chocolate malt is a common addition to imperial stouts so I typically find notes of dark chocolate, and because the malt is usually roasted, smoky flavors often appear.
One magical night this winter I had a glass of our ‘15 Meritage and a bottle of Founders Imperial Stout. Let’s just say that through vigorous research my theories were proven correct. Now then, where do we look on Long Island for a stellar local imperial stout ? On this I suggest you go straight to the source – Greenport Harbor Brewing. They have beautiful imperial stout called From The Depths Within on tap right now. This stout drinks with a wonderful roastiness and hints of dark chocolate and coffee and goes down ever so smoothly for its 9.5% ABV. So grab a bottle of our 2015 Lieb Reserve Meritage and clean out that old growler you have sitting around. I’m telling you, they’re pure joy to drink side by side.
Tasting Room Associate & Resident Craft Beer Guy
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