I’ve noticed an ad in some of the magazines I’ve been reading lately showing a lovely bottle of what I thought to be wine. When I took a closer look, I realized it was not wine at all, but beer. Beer! In a wine bottle! This, of course, required further investigation.
Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale is the creation of Goose Island Beer Co., a craft brew house from Chicago that markets this beer as if it were wine. Sofie is part of their Vintage Ales collection, which also includes Matilda, a Belgian Style Pale Ale; Lolita, a raspberry-scented Framboise Style Wild Ale; Halia, a Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale aged with whole peaches; Gillian, a Farmhouse Ale with white pepper, strawberry and honey; Juliet, a Wild Ale aged with blueberries (compared to a Pinot Noir); and, finally, Madame Rose, a Belgian Brown Style Ale aged with cherries. I have never been so excited about beer in my life!
Brewer’s Notes for Sofie: “Our sparkling Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale is wine-barrel aged with an abundance of hand-zested orange peel. Spicy white pepper notes contrast the citrus tartness. The light, refreshing, creamy vanilla finish will excite those fond of Champagne.” Champagne, you say? Yes, I am quite fond of champagne. Quite fond indeed!
Goose Island provides serving suggestions for Sofie on its website, which made me even more curious:
Preferred Glass: Wide Mouth Glass
Food Pairings: Sofie pairs with a wide variety of foods, its light and refreshing qualities complement lighter flavors like fresh oysters and contrast rich shellfish like lobster.
Cheese Pairings: Brie
Cellaring Notes: Develops in the bottle for up to 5 years
The Goose Island folks are really treating this beer with the seriousness of a wine. They are also, not very subtly, appealing to women like me who might enjoy a beer on occasion, but don’t want to wade through all the clever names to find one that is delicious AND goes well with food.
I immediately set out to find a bottle of this mysterious minx of a beer and found one at my local supermarket for $10. Hmmm…cheaper than most wines I drink…hand-zested orange peel…a winsome font used on the label… I was truly swooning.
I have never been a beer girl. My beer experience consists of childhood memories of my relatives drinking Olympia out of a can, and, more recently, so many craft beers with overwrought “bro” names like “Moose Knuckle,” “Belligerent Ass” and “Hoppy Ending” that I don’t think I have enough body hair to join the club. In bars where you are expected to order beer, I usually just say, “Surprise me,” because I am too overwhelmed and unknowledgeable.
Cut to: a lovely evening after work. Pre-spring, but warm the way it sometimes gets in the Valley on an early March night. Aaron was home, Billie Holiday was playing, and our pug Owen was relaxing on the deck with us. The sky was a bright blue-pink, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t happy hour. The stakes were high. This was a potential perfect moment. I could have gone for the safe bet—a New Zealand Sav Blanc—but I was feeling lucky. I brought out the Sofie, with a slice of orange…‘cause, you know, the hand-zested orange peel thing…and wide mouthed glasses, as recommended. We both took a sip and smiled at each other. We contentedly watched the blue-pink sky turn inky as Billie sang “My Baby Just Cares For Me” while Owen snored happily, as pugs do. The only thing missing from making it a perfect-moment-kind-of-night was the lack of suggested brie, but there will be as many nights to make this correct as Billie Holiday has songs.
Sofie is available at select grocery stores, including Ralphs, Vons and Whole Foods, and at wine shops like Total Wine. Use the search feature on the Goose Island Website to find specific locations in your area where you can purchase Sofie and the rest of the company’s Vintage Ales collection.