Slow Lane Brewing Keep It Real & Shadow Puppet

English Bitter & West Coast Pils
3.5% & 5.0%

Slow Lane are sticking to their old/new dichotomy for June, albeit with two beers you probably wouldn’t expect to see getting a release in the throes of winter. The first, a proper English bitter just like your nonna used to drink (elderly italian women are allowed to duck down the local boozer for a pint of bitter as much as anyone else), the second a Slow Lane interpretation of a much newer style of beer, the West Coast pils.

Ordinary bitters were the king of the English pub for most of the 20th century. Fresh cask or real ales were most commonly ordinary bitters and this became the default order for most of the pub-going public throughout the 1900s. That is until the global dominance of pale lagers finally took hold towards the end of the century. There’s still plenty of bitter to be found, but it’s nothing compared to what it once was. Australia, on the other hand, was on board the lager train from the first station and bitters never gained a foothold in the great southern land.

Keep It Real is a 3.5 percent ABV bitter made with all the Englishness you could hope to muster. The tried and true duo of Maris Otter and East Kent Goldings is a classic for a reason. Pouring a gorgeous pale amber with a tight tan head, the first sniff is pure English malt goodness. Freshly baked biscuits, cereal, and golden syrup with a touch of floral hops. There’s a lovely and deceptively complex malt profile for such a low ABV beer with caramel, berries, chewy biscuits and white bread that’s got real body with a mild bitterness. Essentially, if the word "BEER" was able to be consumed, it would probably taste like this.

A West Coast pilsner is probably about as far away from an ordinary bitter as you can get. Gone is the cosy little pub filled with old men and a dog; here comes a golden beach full of jacked babes of all genders. Invented in 2016 at LA’s Highland Park Brewery, West Coast pilsners combine the crisp drinking qualities of a pilsner with the heavy hopping regime of a modern West Coast IPA. What sets these beers apart from being cold IPAs or IPLs is that they are still very much a pilsner at heart.

As a very new style of beer there’s still plenty of room for interpretation without having to stick to pre-existing notions on what it must be. Slow Lane’s take seems to have been designed in a lab specifically to make me happy. Shadow Puppet is a spotlessly clean beer that is light on malt and heavy on the Eclipse. Probably up there as my favourite Australian hop, Eclipse is given permission to run amok here and, goddamn, it’s a delight. On the nose is juicy mandarin and citrus and a core of grassy pine. The pale pilsner malt body, long lasting bitterness and crisp lager finish makes for effortless drinking. This, my friends, is a rolled gold, certified banger.

Judd Owen

Published June 25, 2024

Slow Lane Brewing

30 Byrnes Street
NSW 2019

(02) 9121 6279
Open Hours

Mon to Thurs: Takeaway only
Fri & Sat: midday to 10pm
Sunday: midday to 8pm

Indies 2024 B
WA Beer & Brewing Conference 2024 2

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