Diner en Blanc – What If?
The French foodie-gathering phenomenon Diner en Blanc—in which all guests come dressed head-to-toe in white for a picnic in which all accoutrements must be white as well—is making its Philadelphia debut next month. While the French higher-ups have decreed that, being a wholly French institution, only wine is allowed, we decided to go ahead and figure out which would be the best beers to bring to the event if America’s Best Beer Drinking City had its way.
Allagash White: Aside from the name being perfect, no one can argue with this beer being on the list. It is a classic craft and many a drinker’s introduction to the world of craft beer. It is crisp and smooth, with a slightly bitter orange peel flavor and a few other fruits in the mix. It finishes with a peppery spiciness which pairs perfectly with any kind of barbeque—a food that just so happens to be picnic perfect.
Dogfish Head Noble Rot: Here we’ll concede a little to the French and choose a beer that is damn close to bordering on wine. Brewed with viognier grape juice and pinot gris grapes, the beer has a white wine-like body and a dry, tart finish. This is as close to a traditional wine as you’ll find in the beer world, so one would think the Diner en Blanc crew would have little problem with it.
Maine Beer Co Peeper Ale: While it’s not a white beer, Maine’s Peeper Ale is a damned good pale ale and their simple, white labels will lend well to the festivities. The beer has the paradoxical ability to be complex yet drinkable at the same time, and the hops balance well with the malt rather than overwhelm it with bitterness. This one could be enjoyed with whatever you decide to bring to the picnic festivities.
Hitachino Nest White Ale: The name says it all, and the beer speaks for itself as well. The beer has an orange/citrus flavor dominated by wonderful spices like ginger, coriander and clove. The dry, peppery finish will leave you wanting much more, which wouldn’t be a bad thing as this would make quite the refreshing beer for a late-August picnic.
Dock Street Bubbly Wit: Brewed with champagne yeast, this witbier does not taste or feel like your traditional wit. Very crisp and dry—much like a champagne, of course—this will prickle your tongue just a bit and make the perfect beer-forward toast. The crisp, fruity flavor will cut through funky French cheeses with ease, making it a perfect way to start your picnic. This one only seldom makes it to bottles, so hopefully you’ll be able to get a growler somewhere—which would be perfect for sharing with all your white-clad compatriots.
Not allowing beer is a shame, as there are many options other than just these five that don’t only taste great, but also fit the all-white theme. Not only is it an unfair restriction from the head honchos, but it’s also an uninformed one: beer, especially lately, has joined wine and champagne on the stage as not only a drink that pairs well with food, but also in many cases has lost its status as a blue collar beverage and is moving up the ranks of haute-cuisine. Even so, your Diner en Blanc time will have to be spent daydreaming about beer rather than drinking it. Fortunately, there are plenty other events, restaurants and culinary icons around the country—and the world—who get it, and there will be plenty opportunity to enjoy your beer with them.
Which beer(s) would you bring to an all-white picnic?