Three-y, flirty and thriving! Botany’s bastion of tradition, Slow Lane, have notched up a third full rotation of the sun and have fittingly released a trio of absolutely banging beers to celebrate. They always manage to coax so much character and complexity out of their beers in a way few others can, and these beers are fabulous examples of that. Also, it’s their birthday and yet we are the ones who get the presents? Let’s unwrap these bad boys, shall we?
First up is To the Fruit Farm, a barrel-aged Brett saison racked onto fresh yellow peaches and nectarines. Just typing out each new element in this beer’s description has got me all excited once again. The base beer is a saison brewed with oats and wheat that was aged in barrel for 15 months with Brettanomyces Claussenii. I’m certain was a fantastic beer even before it was added to the fresh stonefruit.
On the nose, you’re expecting a big hit of juicy peach but there’s also notes of sour lemon candy and fruity Brett funk. The gut punch of bitterness takes this beer to another level. It’s drying and adds depth to the spicy yeast and touch of mild acidity. There’s plenty of barrel to be found too: almond and vanilla melding together with white wine and stonefruit. Put this in a 750ml glass bottle with some art on the label and beer nerds all over the country are hoarding cases in the cellar for the next bottleshare.
Moving on now to a birthday IPA in the guise of Hop Detective. This 6.5 percent ABV hazy has been fermented with the Sherlock yeast strain from Wollongong-based Mogwai Labs. Sherlock is an English yeast strain engineered specifically for hazy IPAs and has found a regular place amongst some of Sydney’s finest slingers of juicy haze. Here, Slow Lane have used a simple grist of ale, oat and wheat malts and double dry-hopped with Citra and Motueka.
Pouring a fully opaque straw yellow with a big fluffy white head, Hop Detective starts with a big hit of various citrus: lemon, lime, grapefruit, it’s all there! Slow Lane’s can-conditioning generally results in a more yeast forward nose than most other IPAs, but this is probably the least yeasty IPA they’ve made. The body is faintly bready wheat with a moderate earthy bitterness and a super smooth and clean finish.
It wouldn’t be a birthday without a slice of cake, however Slow Lane aren’t particularly renowned for their use of lactose and cacao nibs. Instead, we top off the celebrations with a big snifter of rum barrel-aged imperial stout. Ton of Bricks is an aptly named 11.5 percenter aged eight months in barrels from Sydney distillers Brix.
Good heavens, this is a big boy. It looks jet black in the glass but on the edges you can see it’s actually about as dark brown as is possible. This beer has enough rum for a pirate galleon. It’s a rum and whisky assault on the nose with increasing amounts of pure cacao chocolate and dark muscovado sugar as it warms and allows some of the more volatile compounds from the spirit to evaporate away.
I should preface this by saying this beer is not actually very sweet but, by god, it’s doing a very good impression of being so. The big dark malt bill and barrel-ageing have imparted lashings of chocolate brownie, soft dates, vanilla, roasted barley and golden syrup. It’s so soft and cakey you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a bunch of adjuncts thrown in for good measure. Happy bloody birthday!
NB If you're in Melbourne for Pint of Origin, Slow Lane's Alex Jarman will be at Miss Moses as all three of these pour on May 17.
Published May 11, 2023 2023-05-11 00:00:00