Reviewed: Stillwater Insetto
Product description: Dry-hopped sour ale with Italian plum
Stillwater Artisanal Ales – Still Water Insetto – 12 oz. can poured into speciality glassware – 5% abv.
I love the can design for this beer. It’s modern, decorative, and original but it looks like maybe it could be craft soda or seltzer. It’s also a bit hard to see who makes the beer from the label, but I have that issue with most of the new Stillwater beers in cans. I personally think they look sharp, but a potential buyer unfamiliar with their design may scroll right past.
Sampled from a nearly 3-month-old, 12oz can, Insetto is hazy, light peach orange in color with slightly pinkish foam that bubbles up like soda and then settles down to nothing in less than a minute. The nose brings fresh stone fruits, strawberries, tangerine, and a green character like underripe banana. The dry-hopped character is negligible given the can’s age.
The taste starts with heavy, prickly carbonation on the palate with a lot of saltwater character. The first few sips are bracingly tart but not too sour. I would say the tartness disappears rapidly like a sweet tart, so it’s more of that malic acid experience. The mid-palate is reminiscent of sparkling white wine or sparkling rosé. There’s a prominent vinous quality to the whole experience with lots of finesse and delicate play of bubbles, acid, tannins, and lighter flavors of white strawberry and white peach. In the finish, there is a lingering sourness of salted lime like in margarita. There remains a hefty saltwater character throughout, making me think the base beer is a gose, though I can’t confirm that. That bright, highly-carbonated mouthfeel lasts through the whole experience, giving this a refreshing poolside summer beer quality. No one flavor dominates as the plum addition is well-integrated.
I had a few fellow beer lovers try this beer blind and one described it as a peach sour. Another related the beer to an apricot mimosa. Perhaps the stone fruit character is more obvious than I let on.
Overall, this is a great beer. Sourness is sitting around a 7 out of 10 – just a touch too much to be a session sour in my opinion, at least all by itself. I think this beer would do really well paired with food like seafood tacos or maybe served in stemware at an upscale brunch. I’d also like to see a more prominent dry-hop character and slightly dialed back acidity. Still, this was phenomenal.