Eric Strader writes about the craft beer scene in Indiana and Michigan. He’s a dad, husband, potter, soccer coach and special education paraprofessional who likes to read, bike, hike and canoe. You can read more from him in his community blog for The Elkhart Truth, Hop Notes.
Upland Brewing Company has developed an excellent sour beer program. Although this style is becoming more popular with beer enthusiasts, there are still only a hand full of breweries in the United States producing sour ales. For those of us in Indiana who enjoy this style, we are lucky to have Upland nearby. Sour beers take lots of time and careful creativity to brew, so they are very limited, and Upland’s sours rarely if ever see distribution into the general market. Instead the brewery holds a lottery for each release.
This system has developed over time for Upland Brewing, and now you can enter the lottery online, with hopes of the chance to purchase one of these tasty treats. The lottery is open for a limited time, and winners are randomly drawn and notified. At the time of entry, you must specify either the Bloomington Brew Pub or the Indianapolis Tasting Room in Broad Ripple as your preferred pick-up location. The next lottery, which will include these three new beers along with Sour Reserve #5 and Blackberry Lambic, will begin at noon on June 24 and will remain open until noon on June 30. Follow their website and Facebook page for more details.
Belgian sours are spontaneously fermented with exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria (or cultivated strains of wild yeasts and bacteria) which give this style its distinctive dry, vinous, cidery, funky, flavors with a sour aftertaste. While these flavors are pleasing to many, including myself, many beer enthusiasts do find these flavors undesirable.
I recently opened a bottle of Upland Strawberry Lambic (2010 vintage) with a buddy in Kalamazoo. Lambics can be enjoyed either fresh or aged (see recent post on aging beer), so the extra four years in the cellar enhanced the complex flavors. Traditionally with fruit lambics, whole fruit is added after spontaneous fermentation has begun. The ABV often times is low around 3 percent to 5 percent, however, they can have higher ABV levels up to around 8 percent. Fruit lambics even with low ABVs can be cellared for long periods of time.
This bottle of Upland Strawberry Lambic had a very pleasant combination of funky, sour, earthy, grassy notes, and sweet strawberry and other citrus fruits. For those not familiar with sour ales, my description may not help much. It is an acquired taste, and definitely not for everyone.
Upland does brew lots of other styles of beer as well, including their summer session Campside IPA (4.5 percent ABV). This year it is being offered in cans, although I haven’t seen them in Michiana yet. Many thanks to a friend who was biking in Brown County last weekend and brought me a can. By the time you are reading this, the can and I will be canoeing in Northern Michigan.
From a press release from Upland Brewing Co.:
For the first time ever, Upland Brewing Co will be releasing its first beer brewed with an edible flower. Our newest sour ale, Viola , gives our classic oak aged sour ale a new twist using fresh viola flowers.
With a focus on utilizing locally sourced ingredients, Upland has collaborated with our friends at Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Indiana to create Vinosynth White and Vinosynth Red. These collaboration bottles are a unique combination of Upland Sours aged on Indiana grown grapes. Vinosynth Red is aged on Catawba grapes and Vinosynth White is aged on Vidal Blanc grapes from the Oliver Creekbend Vineyards. We're excited to share this unique creation that celebrates the artisanship and love of local ingredients our two companies share.
In celebration of these new releases, Upland is excited to announce our next sour lottery! The lottery will begin at noon on June 24th and will remain open until noon on June 30th. This lottery includes Sour Reserve #5, Blackberry Lambic, Viola, Vinosynth White, and Vinosynth Red . For additional details about this sour lottery, visit www.uplandsours.eventbrite.com.
Viola Beer Description: Developed from the second runnings of a batch of Dantalion, Viola is fermented by wild yeast and aged in oak barrels, which creates a tart, complex beer. We then add fresh viola flowers, giving the beer enticing floral aromas and flavors. The beer is bottle conditioned, which adds a zesty and refreshing carbonation. We recommend you pair Viola with seafood, sushi or dark chocolate.
Vinosynth Red Beer Description: Our friends at Oliver Winery have had a hand in our Sour Ale program since the beginning. The first oak barrels acquired by Upland were purchased from Oliver. Now, many years later, we are excited to present this collaboration between friends that represents our Sour Program full circle. VinoSynth Red is a blend of 50 percent Sour Reserve and 50 percent Malefactor Flanders-style Red Ale aged on Catawba grapes. Catawba is a native North American variety, known for making jams and jellies and distinctly juice, fruity, exotic wines. Malefactor was blended with Sour Reserve to develop more body, mild bourbon barrel character, and a layered acidity to complement the Catawba's innate sweet, fruity notes.
Vinosynth White Beer Description: VinoSynth White is 100 percent Sour Reserve aged on locally grown Vidal Blanc grapes. Vidal Blanc is a French varietal with hints of tropical fruit flavor, commonly utilized to develop ice wines. Our Sour Reserve lends itself wonderfully to enveloping the acidity of the grape with notes of lactic acid, and allows the polite pineapple and grapefruit character of Vidal Blanc to shine on the palate.
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