Back to regularly scheduled programming for Slow Lane this month: a trio of beer releases that more or less perfectly sum up their whole deal. There's an easy-drinking pale ale utilising Kiwi hops, a barrel-aged golden sour ale just shy of two years in the making and, finally, the grandaddy of Belgian Abbey styles, the quadrupel.
It took 16 years of breeding and development for the hop formally known as HORT 4337 to gain an official name and commercial release in 2020. Then, as is the way with these things, it’s taken another year or so before breweries can finally get their hands on the Cool New Thing. Nectaron not only broke the usual NZ Hops naming convention, it seems as if Nectaron is hoping to be more of a US variety than any actual US variety. Eschewing the citrus and grape for tropical stonefruit.
Nectorius is a 5.8 percent ABV hazy pale ale that stays true to previous Slow Lane pales. Regardless of the hopping regime, Slow Lane always manage to coax a little extra from the yeast in such beers. As such, Nectorius has a lovely interplay of pear like esters and aromas of peach and grapefruit from the hops. There’s a nice, punchy bitterness and a full but very dry mouthfeel for a hazy pale on the bigger end of the spectrum.
The logical followup to Slow Lane’s 2021 multi-award-winning Threefold, Fourfold is a 10.5 percent ABV Belgian quadrupel. Modern quads are actually open to a fair bit of interpretation, so much so that the BJCP class them simply as a variety of Belgian dark strong ale. Essentially, they should be a scaled up version of a dubbel: all dark fruits and booze.
Fourfold is straight down the line of a more traditional style quad, relying less on caramel and more on malt complexity and spicy bitterness. Sure, there’s plenty of perceived sweetness with chocolate covered sultanas, figs and candi sugar in the mix, but it’s not cloying and melds well with the moderate bitterness and remarkably dry finish. Although perfectly good right now, I’d highly recommend cellaring a can or two for as long as you can resist.
Obviously, I very much enjoy people sending me beers to write about. As hobbies/part time gigs go, it’s definitely one of the better ones. But let’s be honest here, every now and then from the first sniff or sip of a beer, you just know that trying to think of something interesting to say about it is going to really feel like work. Conversely, sometimes you pour a beer and for the next four or five minutes, you’re unable to do anything but sit contentedly with a big stupid smile on your dial.
Morning Light safely fell into the latter scenario. This is a golden sour ale fermented entirely in ex-wine barrels with a culture of Belgian saison, Brettanomyces and lactobacillus. Left in barrel for 18 months and then can-conditioned for a further three, Morning Light is the kind of beer you once only found in dusty 750ml glass bottles hidden in the back corner of a bottleshop, known only to the staff and their friends.
It pours a strikingly beautiful, opaque golden hue with notes of ripe, juicy pineapple, white wine and elderflower up front and ample bretty funk creeping in once you let it warm up a bit. The palate is all about the oak with an almost creamy mouthfeel of vanilla and perfectly structured acidity. Stunningly good. It’s 17 hours later and all I can think of is the second can in my fridge.
Published March 18, 2022 2022-03-18 00:00:00