Public House Brewing has been an oasis for me in Rolla, Missouri since they opened seven years ago. My wife’s family regularly gathers at her grandparents’ house on the outskirts of Rolla. And I honestly enjoy the weekends and holidays with her cousins, aunts and uncles. But, you know, sometimes you need a friendly pint away from the fam. Or with them.
Public House began as a 3.5-barrel tap room near the Missouri S&T campus in downtown Rolla. When demand outgrew their meager capacity, Public House entered a partnership on a larger, 20-barrel production brewery with St James Winery, right off I-44 in nearby St James, Mo. The new brewery has its own tap room next door to a wine tasting room and they share a lovely outdoor space. (The Rolla tap room and brewery remain open. The brewery there functions as a testing grounds for new beers.) Given the proximity and mutual business interest between the brewery and winery, some sort of fermentation co-mingling was inevitable.
Enter Public House Vignoles IPA as part of their Campus Werks Series. This beer begins its life as their already tasty Elusive IPA. After primary fermentation, the juice of freshly pressed Vignoles grapes from the St James Winery vineyards was blended into the finished beer, sparking a secondary fermentation.
An American IPA with white wine would not be my first guess of a successful intersection of vine and binds; grain and grape. But hey, it really works.
Public House Vignoles IPA
It certainly looks beer. From the handsome, green-labeled bottle, it pours bright gold, totally clear, with a soft white cap of foam. The first whiffs are all IPA – mild tangerine mingling with stronger floral aromas. As the beer cascades across the palate, bright pineapple and grapefruit slowly give way to distinctly fruity white wine flavors. I perceived pears, white grapes, pineapples; very Riesling-like. Each drink ends with the hops reasserting themselves in a solid, but not overwhelming bitter finish.
Vignoles IPA is a white wine sandwich on IPA bread. Starts as an IPA, moves to a more wine-like character, and ends with the bitterness one expects from a well-made beer. The fruity and citrusy hops play especially well with the wine flavors. The residual sweetness tampers down any overly bitter finish. I admit, an IPA with white wine sounds very weird. But the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. And this tastes very good.