Fresh off the back of a very fun collaboration with fellow Botany brewers One Drop, Slow Lane are back in the saddle with a couple of releases that sit right in the guts of their delightful little oeuvre.
When they opened their doors and barrels in 2020, one of their very first releases was a beautiful Brett-laden farmhouse beer named Foundation. They soon followed up with another, slightly bigger saison named Continuum but, sadly, there hasn’t really been another since. At least until Hold Your Horses arrived at my doorstop.
If you’re ever silly enough to ask me what the best beer style is, I’m probably going to launch into a sickening ode to saison, but more specifically, Brett saison. New releases are rare, so it makes each a special occasion. In this case, it's a 7 percent ABV example that lands in the midst of some of my favourite aspects of this king of beer styles. Pouring a hazy gold with a lusciously thick head, the first whiff tells me I’m in familiar territory: Belgian phenols and fruity esters reminiscent of Dupont indicate we’re in for a classic style Belgian saison, what with the notes of hay, white pepper, pear, bready malt and a slightly herbal hoppiness. The palate is a spicy mix of light malt and moderately bitter noble hops with a carbonic bite and mildly tart funkiness to finish. Even at the higher end of the ABV scale, it’s superbly drinkable, dry, and has me yearning for the fields.
Accompanying it is another Belgian-inspired creation, albeit of a much more experimental caste. Free Radicals is a unique and amazingly complex beer that’s more than two years in the making. A dubbel aged in barrels for 25 months with pediococcus that was racked onto fresh Queen Garnet plums before packaging. Get all that?
If you handed me this beer sight unseen, I’d be frankly astonished if I was able to correctly guess any single component with any accuracy. The first clue is in the dark iron oxide colour of the liquid and the purpleish head that dissipates rapidly, hinting at the deep purple/red flesh of the Queen Garnet plums. The first impression of the nose is that of sourness. A sort of lactic twang followed by bright cherry and plums. The base dubbel is unrecognisable here as the extended rest in wood with pedio has absolutely gone to town on the complex dark malts. It’s like drinking a oud bruin with a mouthful of Christmas cake: complex dark fruits, earthy spice and oak marry up with cherry cola and a balsamic like vinous character.
There’s so much going on but all of it good: a fine addition to about 2pm on Christmas Day.
Published November 22, 2023 2023-11-22 00:00:00