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Champagne-style beer


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#1 LindaK

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 08:22 PM

Earlier today, local brewery Boston Beers (maker of Samuel Adams) created some buzz with the announcement that they'd partnered with the world's oldest brewery, Weihenstephan, in Germany to create a champagne-like ale. Labeled "Infinium," it's a limited release that will be on the shelves for the holidays. Short story in the Boston Globe here.


 


#2 vice

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:43 PM

I wouldn't necessarily say that it's a Champagne-style beer, but last week I picked up a bottle of Goose Island's Sofie, which the brewery bills as an 'intriguing choice for Champagne drinkers and drinkers who are fond of Belgian Saisons'. I'm a proud member of both groups and the Sofie didn't disappoint.

eta: proper prepositioning

Edited by vice, 22 November 2010 - 09:44 PM.

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#3 budrichard

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 03:59 AM

Champale Malt Beverage by Pabst, been around for decades.-Dick

#4 ScoopKW

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:05 AM

And Miller High Life bills itself as "the champagne of beers." Doesn't make it so.

I know a fair bit about champagne, and more than a fair bit about beer.

"Champagne Style Beer" seems to be more marketing dreck from a company that makes a lot of goofy "one-off" beers in order to get some free ink in the papers. While they're surely resting on lees, are the other champagne processes present? Are they riddling the bottles? Are they disgorging? Do they add a dosage? Then it really isn't méthode champenoise. So calling it a "champagne style ale" isn't entirely truthful -- and frankly, I think it does a disservice to craft beer.
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#5 Florida

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:05 AM

And Miller High Life bills itself as "the champagne of beers." Doesn't make it so.

I know a fair bit about champagne, and more than a fair bit about beer.

"Champagne Style Beer" seems to be more marketing dreck from a company that makes a lot of goofy "one-off" beers in order to get some free ink in the papers. While they're surely resting on lees, are the other champagne processes present? Are they riddling the bottles? Are they disgorging? Do they add a dosage? Then it really isn't méthode champenoise. So calling it a "champagne style ale" isn't entirely truthful -- and frankly, I think it does a disservice to craft beer.


Seems like an unnecessarily harsh assessment of a brewery that produces a wide range of quality craft beers and can be considered one of founders of the craft beer movement. Personally, I am unsure what “goofy one-offs” you are referencing and, considering Bière de Champagne (that’s “Champagne style beer” in American) is a recognized style of beer being brewed by brewers other than SA, I am at a loss to understand how this beer could be considered "marketing dreck," how is not truthful, or how it does a disservice to craft beer in general.


edited link

Edited by Florida, 09 December 2010 - 09:08 AM.


#6 plattetude

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:16 AM

It may be a relatively new concept to apply méthode champenoise to beer, but I know DeuS, from Brouwerij Bosteels (Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet) and Malheur Brut have both been around nearly 10 years. So is Sam Adams doing something never-been-done? Not so much.

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#7 ScoopKW

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:46 PM

Seems like an unnecessarily harsh assessment of a brewery that produces a wide range of quality craft beers and can be considered one of founders of the craft beer movement. Personally, I am unsure what “goofy one-offs” you are referencing and, considering Bière de Champagne (that’s “Champagne style beer” in American) is a recognized style of beer being brewed by brewers other than SA, I am at a loss to understand how this beer could be considered "marketing dreck," how is not truthful, or how it does a disservice to craft beer in general.


My beef with the style (and it's a very new style, even in Europe) is the idea to make beer more "wine like" in order to appeal to wine snobs who "simply will not drink a pedestrian beverage like beer." Some of these companies are going so far as to age the beer in chalk caves in Reims and Epernay in order to give their brews better provenance. I find the style ridiculous.

Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and occasionally other varietals -- not barley.

Even if brewers are hand-riddling bottles, disgorging the yeast and then adding a dosage for a secondary bottle fermentation, it isn't champagne. It shouldn't be called a champagne beer. I'm surprised the French aren't up in arms about it. I think the name is disingenuous at best.

As for Boston Beer Company's goofy one-offs, this is the latest offering that has included beers such as Millenium -- the beer designed to be aged for 1,000 years -- and their high-alcohol "let's see how high we can go" Utopias. BBC has since dropped out of the high-alcohol arms race, leaving a handful of European breweries making revolting 40-60% abv ice brews.

While experimentation is certainly a necessary component to brewing, it's my opinion that BBC is making these low-production run batches for a little free marketing. If it gets people thinking about craft beer, great. But I don't think it's doing much to elevate craft beers in the eyes of the US market.

Note that I quite like most of the offerings from BBC. They make quality beers. They've certainly done more for craft beer than any other brewery in the US. But that doesn't mean I don't think Infinium Champagne Ale is a goofy beer, made more for marketing than anything else.

Edited by ScoopKW, 09 December 2010 - 01:48 PM.

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#8 LindaK

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 05:36 AM

The Sam Adams brewery is releasing a second batch of it's champaign-style Infinium beer. This year, they're also showcasing its use in cocktails.

Article here: Sam Adams brewer Jim Koch discusses 2nd Infinium batch

I didn't get a chance to try it last year, it sold out, but I'm going to make extra effort this year. Sam Adams brewery HQ is only two miles from my house, after all. Sadly, the release party is already sold out.


 


#9 emannths

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 06:33 AM

The Globe's beer guy, Steve Greenlee, offers his take:

I shared a bottle of Infinium with a few other beer lovers last Thanksgiving. I thought it was an interesting beer -- a refined beverage that fell somewhere between a hoppy pilsner and a sparkling wine. It appealed more to the guests who preferred wine over beer, however. And at $20 a bottle, everyone agreed it was a bit too pricey, as beer goes.


For $20, you can buy nearly any beer and have change leftover. Personally, if I were looking for a beer to share with people that normally drink champagne or wine, I would look toward's Jolly Pumpkin's offerings, particularly ones like Oro de Calabaza and La Luciérnaga. Both are much more interesting and complex, IMHO, and at I usually need an excuse like New Years to spend the $15/bottle that they command. I'm not saying Infinium isn't good, or that you shouldn't buy it, but as a beer-lover, my first thought about $20/bottle beer is not Infinium.

#10 jsmeeker

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 06:34 PM

I want to try and track down a bottle of this. But looking at the Sam Adams website, it doesn't seem to be available within 100 miles of my ZIP code.

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#11 thayes1c

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 08:06 PM

Golden Valley Brewery used to have a biere de champagne called IPA VS Brut, which if I recall was a double IPA aged in chardonnay barrels with a touch of Oregon sparkling wine added. I remember it was very good, with the clean, yeasty character of champagne and a pleasant hoppiness. It was also very, very expensive. I think maybe $35 for a 750ml bottle, but if I ever saw it again I might have to buy it. Definitely the best champagne style beer I've had.

#12 nickrey

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 10:22 PM

Beer in a mock Chanpagne type bottle does not make it Champagne Beer, a qualifying factor for which would be that it was made in the Champagne region of France. Can't wait to see what happens when the French read about this one.

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#13 LindaK

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:11 AM

I bought two bottles yesterday. They're going in the fridge now to chill. I've got friends coming over for lunch today, let's see what they think.


DSCF1020.JPG


Note that the bottle says "ale" clearly at the bottom right.


 


#14 LindaK

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 01:36 PM

A mixed verdict. We all liked it, some more than others.

First of all, it doesn’t pretend to be anything but beer, despite some champagne attributes and a nice pop of the cork. It’s a clear gold-amber with a very creamy head, and with a light and long-lasting effervescence. Not the nose-tickling kind of bubbles you can get with champagne, but most definitely bubbles. The beer itself was very creamy and malty, with a nice hit of citrus and spice, not unlike a seasonal Octoberfest beer. It didn’t have any of the acidity that you’d taste in champagne. Not surprising since it’s a beer and not made with grapes—the term invites comparisons that don’t really make sense.

So the wine drinkers in the crowd (including me) were a bit perplexed by the “champagne” hype. The beer drinkers thought it was an unusual enough departure from a standard ale to qualify as a seasonal treat. We’re all glad we tried it.

DSCF1029.JPG


 


#15 emannths

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 08:01 AM

Thanks for the report. Just fyi, are are some beers that have some acidity to them despite the lack of fruit (in fact, some are intensely sour). The acidity comes from the lactic and other acids created by bugs like pediococcus and lactobacillus, just like in fermented pickles.

#16 Margaret Pilgrim

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 11:01 AM

This style beverage has been around since mid-century, known as Champale.
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#17 tanstaafl2

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 08:04 AM

A mixed verdict. We all liked it, some more than others.

First of all, it doesn’t pretend to be anything but beer, despite some champagne attributes and a nice pop of the cork. It’s a clear gold-amber with a very creamy head, and with a light and long-lasting effervescence. Not the nose-tickling kind of bubbles you can get with champagne, but most definitely bubbles. The beer itself was very creamy and malty, with a nice hit of citrus and spice, not unlike a seasonal Octoberfest beer. It didn’t have any of the acidity that you’d taste in champagne. Not surprising since it’s a beer and not made with grapes—the term invites comparisons that don’t really make sense.

So the wine drinkers in the crowd (including me) were a bit perplexed by the “champagne” hype. The beer drinkers thought it was an unusual enough departure from a standard ale to qualify as a seasonal treat. We’re all glad we tried it.

DSCF1029.JPG


I had a little taste comparison last night with a bottle of Infinium and a bottle of DeuS. Not really much of a comparison as the DeuS is in a class by itself and is more deserving of the comparison to champagne. A very light and clear straw color as compared to the darker hazy appearance of the Infinium. The Infinium was more a really effervescent ale as noted above and while OK did not warrant its high cost in my opinion. Fun to do the tasting but wouldn't likely seek out the Infinium again given the cost while the Deus might be worth the occasional splurge despite the even higher cost.
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#18 Alcuin

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 05:20 PM

A mixed verdict. We all liked it, some more than others.

First of all, it doesn’t pretend to be anything but beer, despite some champagne attributes and a nice pop of the cork. It’s a clear gold-amber with a very creamy head, and with a light and long-lasting effervescence. Not the nose-tickling kind of bubbles you can get with champagne, but most definitely bubbles. The beer itself was very creamy and malty, with a nice hit of citrus and spice, not unlike a seasonal Octoberfest beer. It didn’t have any of the acidity that you’d taste in champagne. Not surprising since it’s a beer and not made with grapes—the term invites comparisons that don’t really make sense.

So the wine drinkers in the crowd (including me) were a bit perplexed by the “champagne” hype. The beer drinkers thought it was an unusual enough departure from a standard ale to qualify as a seasonal treat. We’re all glad we tried it.

DSCF1029.JPG


We drank a bottle of Infinium the other day and this pretty much covers just what I thought about it. The bubbles are nice, comparable in texture to a nice sparkling wine. It's a sparkling beer and it is what it is on its own account. I didn't feel that it was trying to be champagne any more than a high end cider like Aeppel Treow is. Aeppel Treow actually does strike the palate in a similar way to wine but like the Infinium I think sparkling wine's the inspiration but item not the goal to make beer or cider into wine.

I liked it and thought it was interesting but don't think I'll be trying it again. If you are a beer/wine enthusiast and not hard up for cash, I'd recommend trying it if you can get your hands on it. It's just interesting enough. I liked Sam Adams' Utopias too but not enough to seek it out again either. For my $18 for the Infinium, it was worth trying but I can buy two six-packs of Two Hearted or a bottle of Aeppel Treow with money to spare next time. But if you think Infinium is over the top expensive, you should check out the price for a bottle of Utopias...
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#19 rod rock

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:08 AM

I never tried champagne style beer. This gives me good idea because beer is my favorite alcohol drink. And no, im not alcoholic :D

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#20 donaldosborne78

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 03:19 AM

I'm also never tried this chamapagne style beer, and I never see this in the store.


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