The New School is big fans of the recently opened Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co. of NE Portland, which makes a hard beverage similar to cider, only it’s not made from apples but usually fermented citrus juices. However, owner Ken Bonnin Jr. has just launched a newer high concept of “fizzy wine,” as he calls it, using carrot, lemon, ginger, and chai, named “Death Wish Bunny” that will be released at the taproom on February 16th.
Hi-Wheel’s line of sparkling citrus fruit focused alcoholic beverages are hard to fit into a category. I am not crazy about the term “fizzy wine,” as these drinks are in no way wines and don’t taste anything like wine. I am, however, a big fan of the product, whatever it may be called; it reminds me of a cross between a soda and a light sour fruit beer. Very refreshing and easy drinking, perfect for those who are not fans of hoppy beers or who like ciders and want to try something else.
Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead opened its own tasting room in October 2014 and it should become a regular stop for anyone visiting the Breakside Brewery pub just down the street. Hi-Wheel shares a space with Tamale Boy, which also makes some terrific Mexican food. Soon you will also have the 2nd location of Bushwhacker Cidery nearby, so there are plenty of reasons to make the trip.
Hi-Wheel aims to look beyond grapes and hops as key ingredients to a complex and refreshing beverage. Bonnin’s fizzy wines rely on only a few ingredients–including fresh juices and cane sugar–avoiding artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
“America is well-marketed as a land of individualists, so let’s drink like it and look beyond what’s marketed and comfortable for us,” Bonnin says. “What’s often missing at the bar is creativity and ‘different.’ Fizzy fruit wines challenge the notion of fermenting typical ingredients you’d find in wine, beer, or cider. There are endless innovations ahead because we’re never constrained by the types of fruits we work with.”
What began as a hobby has turned into a popular, rapidly growing business for Bonnin, a former software engineer. Following seven years of recipe development, he landed on his first commercially released blend last summer. He quickly sold out of his initial batches at local events and established Hi-Wheel’s 2500-square-foot production facility and taproom in Portland to accommodate demand. Hi-Wheel’s line of fizzy fruit wines are now available in bottles and on tap, consumed at some of Portland’s most popular bars and restaurants.
Hi-Wheel’s future plans include expanding distribution beyond Portland to other states including California, Washington, and to states in the Northeast. The forthcoming release, Death Wish Bunny, will be introduced at a public event in their taproom on February 16, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Hi-Wheel’s fizzy wines are available today at bar’s, restaurants, and retailers including:
• Growlers Hawthorne
• Belmont Station
• The BeerMongers
• Tin Bucket
• The Hop & Vine
• Uptown Market
Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co.
Death Wish Bunny Release Event
Where: Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co. Taproom, 6719 Northeast 18th Avenue, Portland, OR
When: 7PM, Monday, February 16, 2015
The post Hi-Wheel Releases Carrot and Chai flavored “Death Wish Bunny” appeared first on New School Beer.