Style: Blended Barrel Aged Saison
From: Wokingham, UK
Brewery’s Note: “Ratchet is the result of a collaboration with Chase Healey and the boys from Prairie Artisan Ales. We started with a simple saison based on Chase’s Prairie ale. During the brew day we sat down and did some blending, what stands before you is the culmination of our hard work. Blended with white wine barrel-aged Calypso, white wine barrel-aged Sound Wave and Funky Feet, our 100% brett and barrel fermented wild ale. This saison is anything but ordinary and is clear proof that when you sit brewers around a table, anything can happen. That’s so Ratchet!”
When the cap cracks, the beer is a gusher. Frothy fat bubbles ooze out of the bottle and eventually into the glass (there were a couple of pit stops on the floor and in the sink). The beer pours a slightly muddy yellow with oranging hints. The beer is cloudy and opaque, with minor particulates floating about. The beer forms a huge head of frothy, off-white and soapy bubbles that last, and which leave fat frothy lacing strands on the glass when they finally retreat. On the nose, the beer smells of citric metallic must… A little grass, a lot of hay, splashes of lime like sprite, slight perfume, and a definite penny/metallic tinge. On the tongue, the beer tastes initially sharply tart, with mellow splashes of herbal sweetness, hay like bitters, and a subtle earthy tannic quality that moves from bitter to sweeter barrel notes. In flavor, it’s musty, but a little watery on the back end. There is subtle barrel: vanilla, more oak, and some herbal wood (not oak). There is light lime citrus, and the taste of pennies does touch the beginning of the sip. There is tons of subtle notes and complexity in the flavor, but the overall character comes off a bit bland in comparison with all the side notes. There is slightly chalky lacto citrus, pineapple, some nice hoppy notes, and lovely subtle barrel, but nothing quite congeals as the driving synthesis of the blend. I have not had the component parts of this beer, but from sampling this I bet they are all superb. Unfortunately, all of these together make fascinating parts without a complete whole. In the mouth, the beer is thin, yet feels initially sharp with carb that snaps, and then crisp and quick. Only after the beer leaves does it seem to carry some weight with sticky tannic lingerings on the back of the tongue that cause a slight astringency, while the cheek pouches fill with reservoirs of spittle. As the beer sits in the glass and opens up a little, it begins to come together more and more, developing a nice brett funk beneath the other components, which pulls things closer to a centralized theme. It’s a little too thin overall, which makes it nicely drinkable, but I want a little more weight to help prop up all of its complexity. It’s superbly complex, but needs more of a core to paint its complexities off of. This is definitely a beer to let open up in the glass. As it airs out, its components become much more integrated, and the metallic notes turn into bretty musk, which I like a lot. Be wary of a gushing bottle if you grab one of these, but also give it some time to develop once you pop the cap. I would love to try the component parts, just get a better idea of where this beer came from, and as a whole it is great, but not quite to the tier I’ve come to expect from these two stellar breweries. Worthy of a try, but I would advise trying (what you can of) the component parts first, so as to better appreciate the blended whole.