Fundamentals #126 — Duration x Forest & Main A Shared Sky Saison

Philadelphia will always occupy one of the warmest spaces in my heart.

It’s the first city I went on a “work trip” after I quit my job to go freelance in 2016, after splurging my savings on a ticket to that year's Craft Brewers Conference. The event is the largest of its kind in the industry, a series of industry talks plus a trade show that sees upwards of 13,000 brewers visit from all over the world.

That trip made me fall in love with a place that has great beer, bars, and some of the most incredible sandwiches you’ll ever enjoy – so it’s no surprise they call Philly “the city of brotherly love”. Neither is it surprising that such a city has birthed a brewery like Forest & Main. Located in the suburb of Ambler, some 16 miles north of Philadelphia itself, you’ll find the quaint brewpub where this community-focused enterprise brews eclectic styles (for Philadelphia, at least), from classic English “pub ales” to tasty takes on Belgian classics. 

This brewery's sensibilities feel like the perfect fit for their collaboration partners on this beer: Norfolk’s Duration Brewing. Like Forest & Main, Duration invests as much time perfecting classic lagers and other more traditional styles as it does dialling in its hoppier offerings. This meeting of minds has produced A Shared Sky, a classically Belgian inspired saison, with a subtle dry hop addition to give it a more appealingly modern flavour.

It’s this tightrope-walk balance between new and old that makes this beer so inviting. There’s that classic funky, bready, redcurrant saison character that made beers like Saison Dupont famous the world over. But the delicate slip of pine and lemon from the hopping adds a razor-sharp edge of refreshment, each taste priming you for another sip. At 5% ABV it also comes in a little lighter than a typical Belgian equivalent, which I found hugely welcoming, and ensured every drop of the 440ml was as delicious as the last.

While I would encourage anyone to visit the wonderful city of Philadelphia, it’s also worth making the effort to get to Duration’s taproom, near King’s Lynn. Although still at the start of their journey, it’s a brewery that’s already put down some impressive roots. And with beers like A Shared Sky, it’s clear that what’s still to come will likely be very special indeed.

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.