When you get to try La Fontaine from Social Fox Brewing, expect two things immediately.

First, the beer was named after a French poet and was made with French grapes, so there’s a classy element to drinking this beer. Second, sit down and enjoy the ride as this Oenobeer clocks in at 13.9% alcohol by volume, right at the legal limit for a beer in Georgia.

Before we go too much farther… Oenobeer?

La Fontaine Oenobeer from Social Fox Brewing
La Fontaine Oenobeer Photo credit Social Fox Brewing
It’s pronounced (N-O-Beer) and the basic definition, as told to me by Social Fox co-owners Mike Greene and Mark Klafter, is a beer made with wine or aged in wine barrels. La Fontaine is a bock made with a little over 60 gallons of California Pinot Noir grapes.

And it’s a tricky process to get right, at least for Social Fox, who’s brewing their first Oenobeer. They had to specifically brew a lower yield of beer (almost 30 percent less beer) to then later add to the 60 gallons of grapes. They had to make adjustments along the way. They also visited Liberati Brewery & Restaurant in Denver last year to get the ins and outs of Oenobeer, which is Liberati’s specialty.

The team at Social Fox wanted to brew a fall-focused Oenobeer and decided on the Pinot Noir grape to go along with their bock. Klafter calls it a fantastic compromise between beer and wine.

“It’s really interesting because it kind of changes characteristics throughout the process,” Klafter said. “I’d say right now it’s a really nice balance between the wine and the beer. It doesn’t have the full-bodied wine feel to it. It’s just a very interesting, indescribable flavor. It tastes a little bit like wine; a very mellow, light-bodied wine.”

Greene added: “We’ll have hints of the beer shining through with the grapes, but the grapes give it that wine-like essence.”

You’ll be able to give it a taste when they release the beer to the public on Friday, September 18 at 4 p.m. And when you taste it, know that the folks at Social Fox feel so good about this beer, they’re sending it off to one of the biggest beer competition around, the Great American Beer Festival.

“This will be the first time we’re entering the competition,” Greene said. “We’ve got four beers we’re putting in there. We’ll see how we do. But also you get the competition notes back. Any notes back can help us improve on any character flaws or anything we want to do. Those notes are very valuable from those judges.”

Those notes will be valuable to fans of Social Fox’s Oenobeer, too. Greene and Klafter noted that while La Fontaine is the first Oenobeer for the brewery, it might not be the last. There are plenty of beer styles and grape varietals to explore.