And, now, it’s time for another…
Summer… of… Sour!
Aether's 2023 Pet Nat is bound to be divisive for drinkers, depending on whether they appreciate a nice wine or not. If you’re not familiar with the term Pet Nat,* it’s short for "Pétillant Naturel", which means "naturally bubbly"; it’s a low intervention style of sparkling wine. The reason this beer bears the name is because it’s a blend of a sour pale ale and – you guessed it – a Pet Nat wine.
This isn’t the first time Aether have made a beer like this. Anyone who’s a longtime fan of the brewery may remember Dryad, the Pet Nat sour from 2019 made with riesling juice. But 2023 Pet Nat Sour is a sauv blanc baby. It starts off winey, with the sauv blanc acidity bringing tart peach and tangy citrus, before the whole thing seems to transform in the mouth and take on characteristics of a Belgian witbier. Soft fruity esters give off notes of creamy banana and a hint of bubblegum, and almost have you forgetting this is a sour beer.
Looks like honey, but smells like wine. Tastes like white wine then like white beer. Spent some time with oak chips to soften up, then got all cosy with aluminium so you can hit it hard.
When I saw the colour of Imperial Blackberry Breakfast Smoothie – a purple-tinged ruby that’s darker than many red wines – and heard that it contained a couple of tonnes of Tasmanian blackberries, I couldn’t help but expect it to be an amped-up version of Aether’s core Blackberry Sour.
But from the first whiff, the "breakfast" side of this beer comes through powerfully. Between the coconut, the toasted almond and the fruit (there’s some orange zest in there, too), it smells like a big ol’ bowl of coconut muesli. Lactose and vanilla hit the ground running as soon as you start to drink, giving more of a coconutty baked treat flavour with a slightly sweet balance before the blackberries roll in with a thwack of sourness at the back of the jaw.
Echoes of Aether’s Blackberry Sour, sure. But, overall, this beer is more like fancy granola or a blackberry lamington.
*Not to be confused with "pet gnat", which is a domesticated insect.
Published December 5, 2023 2023-12-05 00:00:00