Slow Lane Grain of Salt & Woodchip

Gose & Oaked Table Beer
3.2% & 3.5%

Never before have we been so well serviced with low and no alcohol beers. It really wasn’t very long ago that XXXX Gold was the best-selling beer in the country and was pretty much the only option available to anyone who wanted a couple of beers without having to deal with the reckoning that comes with several standard drinks worth of alcohol. Now we’re blessed with beers like this duo from Slow Lane. Unlike the mid-strength beers of yore, just because they’re 3.5 percent-ish ABV doesn’t mean there’s not much to them. These are intricately brewed beers, well worth savouring.

Gose is a very strange style of beer with a very long history. Records dispute its first appearance, but it’s likely it was somewhere between the 11th and 13th centuries in Goslar, Germany. Gose’s real heyday was in the 18th and 19th century when it took off in Leipzig and the surrounding villages – so much so that a single producer was producing more than a million bottles a year. However, the style’s popularity remained very much confined to the areas around Leipzig in lower Saxony, and after the devastation of WW2, lagers took over and gose almost fell out of favour completely, before a couple of dedicated people resurrected the style in the 1980s.

Like most styles of beer that get resurrected and adopted by modern craft brewers, most of the beers bearing the name you see now are essentially fruited kettle sours with a bit of salt added. Yet, as with their wonderful Berliner Weisse, Slow Lane have taken a much more traditional approach with Grain of Salt in trying to capture the true essence of the style.

Goses are all pilsner and wheat malt so this is a very pale beer with a quickly dissipating white head. Like everything else about this beer, the aroma is far more complex than it has any right to be. There’s a bunch of floral spice from the Saaz hops, pineapple from the Brettanomyces, and a kind of herbal saltbush character. The salt hits your tongue first followed by layers of Bretty funk, coriander, wheat malt, and a flavour similar to the mysterious Juicy Fruit gum. Speaking of juicy, the lacto acidity and hefty salinity will have you literally salivating for the next sip. It’s delicate, light and thoroughly refreshing.

I’ve written about table beers previously on Crafty so, in a nutshell, they were traditionally brewed as super low alcohol (sometimes around 1 percent ABV) beers that the whole family would drink with a meal. Modern table beers seem to hover around the 3 to 3.5 percent range and, ideally, should serve a very similar purpose: enough complexity to complement a wide range of food but simple enough to not get in way.

Woodchip is the second table beer Slow Lane have released except this one has spent three months in ex-wine barrels before being dry-hopped with Motueka. The results are exceptional. Both the oak and Motueka play starring roles in what is an extremely pleasant beer to drink. The oak provides aroma, flavour and a textured body where the Motueka blends with the Bretty pine and hay funk to lend hoppy spice and a hint of lime zest. The oats and wheat help give a bit more body to an otherwise feather-light malt base, while a moderate bitterness keeps everything in check.

Another superlative Slow Lane creation that any table would be lucky to have.

Judd Owen

Published September 16, 2022

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

WA Beer & Brewing Conference 2024 1

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