French co-operative winery diversifies into beer

Friday May 21 2021 by Vitisphere

 The co-operative intends to contact a malting plant for the barley and has approached an Alsace hop producer to complement its supplies. The co-operative intends to contact a malting plant for the barley and has approached an Alsace hop producer to complement its supplies. - Photo credit : DR

Under the name “Brasserie Vigneronne du Gard”, the brewing business of the Rocca Maura co-operative winery in Roquemaure “aims to diversify our production and ensure a constant income for our members, whatever the situation in the wine industry”, explains cellar master Valentin Royer at the 60-member co-operative which has 400 hectares under vine. After taking up the position a year ago, the winemaker has continued the project to develop a winegrowers' beer in Roquemaure, which had already been launched a year previously.

After investing €100,000 in buying brewing equipment – including six stainless steel tanks for heating the malt, preparing the brew and fermentation – the winery launched its first two ranges of ‘Rocca Nostra’ beers this spring: a pilsner-type, light, citrusy lager and a more complex and fruity pale ale retailing for €2.90 for a 33 cl bottle at the winery. The beer is also available in 75 cl formats, and kegs are being mulled.

Although the first bottles were produced from malted barley bought in France, the co-operative intends to incorporate barley production into its vineyards. “When you drink a craft beer, the only thing that is generally locally sourced is the water. The malted barley is often Belgian. We want to use local products in a co-operative way”, explains Royer. One co-operative grower has just planted 1.5 hectares of malting barley to produce 6 tonnes of barley (i.e. 4 tonnes of malt). This could produce 120 hectolitres of beer per year, which was the brewery's production target at launch.

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