Yonah Mountain Vineyards grapes are showing up in an unexpected location: A beer barrel in Athens.
Grape skins from the White County vineyard were used by Creature Comforts to brew a limited-release batch of “rose lager” called Yonah Skins.
The grape skins spent six months soaking with lager beer in used Yonah oak barrels at the brewery.
“Yonah Skins has many similarities to rosé wine. This may not be too hard to imagine given the time we age the beer on grape skins, but the flavors really are more akin to wine than most beer,” said Blake Tyers, wood cellar and mixed fermentation director at Creature Comforts. “With a soft pink hue, the first impressions are those of floral, light, and wispy rosé that eventually open up to watermelon, strawberry, and rose petals. This is truly one of my favorite beers we make.”
Just 252 bottles were produced, but you’ll have to work a visit to the brewery into a gameday trip because the bottles are for sale only at the taproom.
Creature Comforts and Yonah Mountain have collaborated on batches of Yonah Skins in previous years, said Eric Miller, general manager of the winery.
The project got started through Miller’s and Tyers’ former lives as drummers.
“We were both percussionists in the past. That was my old career — I used to teach drums,” Miller said. “I taught at Georgia Tech and at several high schools and colleges.”
Now, Miller and his father run Yonah Mountain and Tyers runs the small-batch, experimental brewing at Creature.
The first experiment with Yonah Mountain started about five years ago, and since then there have been a few batches of Yonah Skins brews.
The first batch took an entire year to make, Miller said.
“It hasn’t been every single year for the past five years, but at least two or three times now they’ve come and gotten our used barrels,” he said.
The timing worked out and the brewery was able to collect both French oak barrels and grape skins for Yonah Skins. The pressed grapes would have been discarded had they not been used for the beer.
The grapes were some of the vineyard’s red grapes, which include carbernets, merlot, malbec and petite verdot varieties.
The only other collaboration that Yonah Mountain has is with Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta, which provides the alcohol the winery uses to make Steamboat, its port-style wine.