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Rosé Beer Right Now

It’s fair to say that Trevor Williams is obsessed with rosé. For nearly a decade, he worked for a wine distributor in Columbus, Ohio, where he became “hopelessly hooked on rosé,” he says. “Even in the early 2000s, I was pretty into it.”

Williams’ focus would eventually shift from grapes to grain, and in 2012 he cofounded Hoof Hearted Brewing. The irreverent brewery focuses on the sort of hazy, hop-saturated IPAs that are all the rage, but Williams never forgot his first love.

“I was always crushing rosé and getting everyone at the brewery into it,” he says.

So Williams decided to combine his two passions to create a rosé beer. To find that balance of refreshment, low alcohol and rosé-like flavor, Hoof Hearted brewers settled on gose (pronounced “GOES-uh”), a German-style sour beer. They added pink Himalayan sea salt and hibiscus, which lends a rosy tint and pleasant tartness that plays off the beer’s acidity. “Rosé Gosé” was released in cans and created an unexpected clamor.

Firestone Walker’s Bretta Rosé.
Firestone Walker’s Bretta Rosé / Photo by Meg Baggott

Other brewers take different paths to achieve a rosé-like hue and flavor profile in their beers. Firestone Walker’s Bretta Rosé begins as a rousingly acidic Berliner weisse seasoned in puncheons for six months, then infused with fresh raspberries and aged to achieve its rich color and berry fragrance.

Crooked Stave’s Sour Rosé.
Crooked Stave’s Sour Rosé / Photo by Meg Baggott

Crooked Stave’s Sour Rosé, released in cans last month, is fermented with wild yeast in oak foudres alongside second-use blueberries and raspberries. Alternatively, Anderson Valley opts for rose hips and raspberry purée to create the tangy, crimson-colored Framboise Rose Gose.

While these beers embody elements of rosé, few approximate the wine as does Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“We wanted to add in the subtle characteristics that are often found in French rosé,” says co-founder/head brewer Patrick Woodson.

Brewery Bhavana's Roselle.
Brewery Bhavana’s Roselle / Photo by Meg Baggott

Woodson spent more than four years to perfect the process. He brews a simple base beer, then drops out the yeast and hits the ale with sugar and Champagne yeast. The alcohol elevates to 13% alcohol, twinned to a tingly effervescence and, most importantly, a desert-dry body. It’s then inoculated with souring bacteria for an acidic pang and finished with fruits like dried cherries, grapefruit zest and raspberries.

Roselle, as it’s known, finishes rosy and raucously bubbly, a fruity sparkler that creates a liquid link between beer and wine.

Rosé beer appeal to suds lovers who look to sip something new, while they allow wine fans to wade in familiar waters.