While many brewers using grapes focus on fresh fruit to extract as much wine-grape character as possible, some beer makers are going the other way and looking at “second use” fruit as a means of adding a more subtle fruit character without overwhelming the malt and fermentation notes in their beer. Denver’s TRVE Brewing is one, and Head Brewer Zach Coleman jumped at the chance to create a beer named Ecate using grape pomace (the skins, stems, and seeds left after juice is pressed) that a local winery was discarding.
“[Pomace] expresses as less vinous, with more fruit notes and a nice earthy component as well from the stems and seeds. If you smell it, the pomace has an almost fruit leather expression,” says Coleman.
“We tend to make lower ABV beers, and because wine grapes have so much sugar in them, that would bump up the alcohol.”
Because pomace contains very little fermentable sugar yet more concentrated tannins, it’s best used with finished beer, and contact time and refermentation are quick. Typical contact time for TRVE is between one and four days.
“We reused a thing (pomace) that was basically trash at that point, and that’s something I like to play around with,” says Coleman. “It’s a challenge to see whether we can get flavors that are cool and different from that from first-use fruit.” “I’m trying to do something different than wine, and that’s one reason I use pomace. I don’t want it to taste like wine; I want it to taste like beer.”