Having chosen a Spanish term for the name of their love affair with all things saison, Sobremesa founders Hannah and Casey return to the Iberian Peninsula for the title of the first release in collaboration with Victorian winemakers Minim. Encontro translates into English as meeting, which most obviously refers to the partnership between the brewers and winemaker, but could just as well as describe the coming together of beer from the former and grapes from the latter.
Having sampled the barrel-fermented and blended saison aged on whole bunch shiraz grapes, I'd also argue it's a fitting manner in which to capture how everything has been brought together just so: there's real harmony in this meeting. For, while the grapes bring a depth of crimson that, once the soft pink head has fizzled away, could pass visually as a minimally-processed red – a little cloudy rather than bright – and the aromas are awash with plums, berries and parma violets*, the base beer (or beers) and all who live within it play their part too.
The saison contributes a sweetness – much of it acid- rather than grain-derived – as well as a lively, spritzy carbonation and a tart, cleansing texture that’s not far short of puckering; go hunting and you'll pick out some funky farmhouse esters too.
I'd like to think my 750mL sprung a leak, but the truth is it's just so damn drinkable. If you’re looking to bring wine drinkers into the fold, you could do far worse than set up an encontro.
*Now, this could be some sort of trick of the mind due to the head reminded me of the colour of the Swizzels sweets of my youth, but I'm sticking with it regardless.
Published June 2, 2023 2023-06-02 00:00:00