A new year, a new blend, and a new look for Williamstown-based brewers and blenders Black Arts as they unveil the fourth iteration of their flagship wild blends – as well as a refresh for the brand. They might have switched their labels from dark to light, but the Wild twins are still comin' atcha in 750ml bottles and bearing the sort of depth fans have become accustomed to when exploring each release.
Golden Wild, which the Black Arts team describe as "remarkably wine-like", puts stone fruit front and centre for me, in particular something akin to oaked apricot with peaches for company amid the hazy golden liquid. There's much of a citrusy / citric acid bent at play too, aiding the beer's lean presentation on the palate, while I picked up a little bit of barnyard character in there too. If you like your beers dry, well, you won't find many drier.
Now, I'm a bit of a sucker for wild red ales, and would reach for Rodenbach's Caractère Rouge if faced with a wine drinker who claimed there wasn't a beer in the world for them, so it's always with a sense of anticipation that beers such as Red Wild are cracked and decanted into glasses at Crafty Towers. They remind me a little of Thai cuisine; at its best, it's a meeting of potent elements – variously sweet, sour, hot 'n' spicy, salty and creamy – exploding in harmony in every corner of your palate. And while the elements at play here are rather different, as my drinking companion – one who'd only recently entered the realms of sour beers – put it: "Jeez, there's a lot going on here."
There sure is, but with all the pieces arranged just so within the ruddy, mahogany liquid. There's cherries and red berries, sweet red malts, oaky vanilla, lovely length and a balanced acidity that allows a fruity, malty perfume to linger atop your palate even after the beer has passed. Bloody excellent.
- Barrel-Aged Wild Ales
- 5.5% & 6.0%