Sobremesa Fermentary & Blendery are celebrating success at the Drink Easy Awards in Adelaide last night, with the small, family-run Melbourne operation's bière de garde landing in the third spot in the list of Australia's top drinks. That beer, Vibes on Toast, also topped the best beer list where it was joined on the podium by Brick Lane's Smoking Gun and Mismatch's Lager, which ranked second and third respectively.
Sobremesa only released their first beers in early 2020, with operation very much a passion project for Casey Grieve and Hannah McErlane that focuses on old-world brewing styles, barrels and blending. Vibes On Toast is a barrel-fermented bière de grade (a traditional French farmhouse style of ale) released earlier this year, boiled for three hours to achieve its dark hue and caramelisation, then fermented in a barrel with a blend of Brettanomyces, lager and saison yeast.
Casey and Hannah were both in Adelaide for the awards and looked like they were in a state of shock when they appeared on stage to collect their award, with Casey saying it was a humbling experience.
"Hannah and I started this business two and a half years ago," he said. "To make beers we like to drink without compromising on taste, flavour or production techniques – and we'll continue to do that."
Drink Easy sits apart from traditional drinks competitions by focusing on – and ultimately ranking – all kinds of Australian-made beverages and eschewing traditional style categories. Instead, judges consider a drink's personality, complexity and drinkability. As a result, Sobremesa's barrel-aged beer was judged against wines, whiskies, gins and the unique fortified wine which claimed overall top spot in the competition: Økar Tropic Mistelle.
Two separate barrel-aged beers from Brick Lane made the top ten beer list: their Smoking Gun was ranked number two and Asylum number eight. Smoking Gun is a 10.6 percent ABV stout aged on Spanish cedar, while Asylum was aged on Amburana, a type of wood that's rarely used in Australia and is also known as Brazilian oak, for the Melbourne brewery's 2022 Trilogy of Fear series.
Mismatch's third place for their core range Lager adds to the beer's considerable accolades, which include being named Champion Beer at The Indies in 2018 and Champion European Style Lager at the 2021 Indies. They also snuck their Session Ale into the top ten beers.
Another SA operation making it into the top ten overall list was Sunlight Liquor with their Sparkling Orange Blossom Mead. It just missed out on a podium finish and is one of many drinks made by Tom O’Reilly, the man behind the beers at Loophole Brewing on South Australia's Limestone Coast.
Molly Rose saw double success for their Little Berries Shiraz Farmhouse Ale too, which landed fourth in the best beer list and won the Easy On The Eye award for its label design. Brewery founder Nic Sandery said the latter award was testament to their designer, Claudia Passera from Cloudy Co, who has worked with the Collingwood outfit from day one.
"She's incredible to work with," Nic says. "She's able to get these ideas out of my head and onto the bottle, and to be able to do that is pretty special."
Fox Hat's Red Pelt, Bridge Road's Passionfruit and Guava Sour, and Little Pete's HAZY completed the beers in the top ten beers and cider list.
Beer & Cider Top 10
- Number 1: Sobremesa Fermentary & Blendery, Vibes on Toast,VIC
- Number 2: Brick Lane Brewing Co, Smoking Gun, VIC
- Number 3: Mismatch Brewing Co, Lager, SA
- Number 4: Molly Rose Brewing, Little Berries / Shiraz Farmhouse Ale, VIC
- Number 5: Fox Hat Brewing, Red Pelt / India Red Ale, SA
- Number 6: Bridge Road Brewers, Passionfruit and Guava Sour, VIC
- Number 7: Plenty Cider, Cornucopia, TAS
- Number 8: Brick Lane Brewing Co, Asylum, VIC
- Number 9: Little Pete Brewing, HAZY, SA
- Number 10: Mismatch Brewing Co, Session Ale, SA
Top 10 Overall Drinks
- Number 1: Økar, Tropic, Mistelle, SA
- Number 2: Seppeltsfield, Para Grand Tawny NV, SA
- Number 3: Sobremesa Fermentary & Blendery, Vibes on Toast, Vic
- Number 4: Sunlight Liquor, Sparkling Orange Blossom Mead, SA
- Number 5: Watkins, Mad Cousins, Chilled Light Red, SA
- Number 6: Amber Lane Distillery, Silk Road Whisky, NSW
- Number 7: Taylor & Smith, Hanky Panky, TAS
- Number 8: Smug AF Cocktails, Non-alcoholic Mojito, NSW
- Number 9: Archie Rose., Rye Malt Whisky, NSW
- Number 10: Archie Rose Distilling Co., Lemon Scented Gin Harvest, NSW
Top Drinks In The Other Categories
Australia’s Best Wine: Moorak Wines, Petillant Naturel – Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, SA
Australia’s Best Spirit: Never Never Distilling Co, Triple Juniper Gin, SA
Australia’s Best Non-Alcoholic: Smug AF Non-alcoholic Mojito, NSW
Australia’s Best Alternative: Ventura Brewing, Peach & Sage Alcoholic Kombucha, NSW
Will Ziebell was one of the judges at this year's Drink Easy Awards.