Right off the bat, I’m prone to like this new beer from Deschutes because, according to the brewery, the name of the beer, “Zarabanda” roughly translates to “party.” Or “hubbub.” Points.
Deschutes calls this a “Spanish take on the farmhouse-style saison,” and it’s a pretty accurate description. The beer is a collaboration with chef Jose Andres, a Spanish-American chef with half a dozen restaurants who helped usher in the small plates movement. Being a big guy who enjoys the “buffet style” food movement, I’m not terribly impressed by this particular credential, but I’m willing to let that accomplishment slide, because Zarabanda is a really creative beer. The chef worked lemon verbena, pink peppercorn, sumac and dried lime into the light saison.
Full disclosure: I had to Google most of those ingredients. Turns out lemon verbena is an herb and pink peppercorn is a fruit. Who knew?
The beer smells like a shandy, or maybe that bowl of lemons my wife insists is a centerpiece, which is probably due to that lemon verbena—known for its intensely lemon scent. It pours a golden orange and has more bubbles than my kid’s bath.
The first sip is a little tart and extremely zesty. It’s full of punchy citrus but without the sweetness you might expect from that family of fruit. The body is so thin on this beer, it practically disappears inside your mouth, mimicking one of my favorite qualities of champagne. Overall, the beer has a touch of spice, but is incredibly refreshing.
Deschutes is releasing Zarabanda in time for the holidays, but I can see this becoming a major player in my fridge come summer time, when I’m looking for something more complex than your standard lager or pilsner.
Personally, I’d like to see more of these chef/brewery collaborations. They may not have the mass appeal of a metal band/brewery collaboration, but it’s a more logical partnership, and I feel in this particular situation, Chef Andres truly brought something unique to the table.
Deschutes suggests pairing it with fish and chips, which I get, or some sharp cheddar, which sounds about right. But Zarabanda is so light, and so effervescent, I think it would go well with a massive family-style dinner, like say turkey and mashed potatoes with a gravy lake. Just sayin’.
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery
Location: Bend, Ore.
Availability: Year Round in 22-ounce bottles