By Julia Burke, Beer Editor
I'd venture to say many of you are winemakers. I'd venture to say many others are home winemakers. And a fair number of you have undoubtedly spent some time in a cellar. So you're all too familiar with the necessity of beer during the winemaking process: to celebrate at the end of a long night of crushing; to sip while filtering (this may just be an intern thing); to enjoy in the lab while figuring out the next day's picking schedule; or just to cleanse the palate after hours of bench trials.
Beer's vivacious carbonation, pointed hop character, and sweet malt body just hit the spot on a wine-fatigued palate, and whether you're doing punchdowns in your kitchen or on a forty-thousand-liter tank, it makes a hard day's work all the more worthwhile. I thought I'd celebrate the end of the 2011 harvest with a survey of the best beers to chug while foot stomping, tote lugging, and cap punching.
Southern Tier Harvest Ale: a hop lover's harvest ale that cuts through palate fatigue like a knife
Perfect for: an end to a day of tasting barrel samples for bench trials
Butternuts Moo Thunder: a comfort-food milk stout that's as easy-drinking as chocolate milk and sticks to your ribs
Perfect for: waiting for grapes to come in in sub-40 weather
Ithaca Flower Power: a classic IPA for cool-climate winemakers with a taste for acidity
Perfect for: pressing must in your kitchen with a cheesecloth, a funnel, and a cut-up milk jug
Flying Bison Blizzard Bock: a chewy and sweet German-style winter seasonal
Perfect for: refreshment after shoveling grapes into a crusher under the stars
Horseheads Chemung Canal Towpath Ale: an insanely drinkable cream ale
Perfect for: a post-punchdown refresher to be consumed at sunset in the vineyard
Southampton Abbot 12: a sensational Belgian quadrupel
Perfect for: an end-of-the-night treat to ease the pain of sore muscles and a wiped-out brain
Here's to a wild and wacky vintage, and New York beer's noble role in it.