Upland Brewing’s Sour, Wild, Funk Fest Proves Again That There’s Nothing Sweeter Than the Art of the Sours
Hello! So just let me introduce myself, my name is Humpty. No, not really, it’s Tyler! You’ll be hearing from me a lot in the coming future! I am one of the new contributors for IndianaOnTap. What makes me qualified to write for such an awesome web site? Glad you asked! You see, I’m not a brewer. I’m just like you, and like you, I love craft beer! I have ever since my first Indiana Microbrew Fest in 2010 in Broad Ripple. That’s where it all started for me. Originally I thought “four hours of drinking, outside, for a reasonable price? Count me in,” but then something happened. I fell in love with the art of craft beer, and yes it really is an art. Like art, not every piece (aka beer) is going to be for everyone.
Personally, I’m an IPA fan myself. Now I can’t tell you if you are going to have a “sweet floral cherry with undertones of spice” or even “notes of dark fruit”. What I can tell you, however, is if you will enjoy this beer while out with friends, at the track, a local concert, or even just looking for something to go along with that awesome burger you just cooked. Alright, enough about me! Let’s get to the Upland Sour Wild and Funk Fest!
For those that haven’t heard of the Upland Sour Wild and Funk Fest it is a collection of breweries from across the nation (roughly 27 of them this year) that come to Indianapolis to showcase their sour beers. Some brew them specifically for this event and they are only available in their brewery. Some work along side other breweries, distilleries, or even wineries to create a special collaboration. It’s quickly growing to be a premiere event that many craft beer enthusiasts look forward to each year.
A sour beer is like nothing you have tried before, and it is an acquired taste. That shouldn’t stop you from enjoying them though. Because there are some that are just plain delicious! I went to this event with my trusty partner in crime, my girlfriend Katie. So you are in for two points of view for a few of the select beers that we tried. These insights are my own, or Katie’s, and they do not represent all consumers of the beer.
Barley Island Brewing
Old Bernie Sour Ale – This sour does offer you two distinct tastes almost at the same time. It does have a sour taste that hits your taste buds before you even know what is happening. It finishes with a mouth full of spice, not the heat kind, but more rather the kind that you would find in an Easter meal. Surprisingly, despite being aged in a bourbon barrel there wasn’t an overabundance of bourbon taste.
White Apricot IPA – Even though this beer was not a sour it was a welcome change for my taste buds. Especially since I had this about halfway through the fest. As far as IPAs go this one was on the softer side. What I mean by softer side is that it doesn’t judo chop your tongue as soon as you take a drink.
Black Acre Brewing
Cuvee de Irvington – This sour was aged in a Pinot barrel and you can taste it. It was an interesting mix between the bitter taste from the sour and the pinot. You can definitely taste the pinot. So if you are not a wine fan, this beer is probably not for you. In the beers defense though, the more I tasted the more I liked it. The first drink was a little bit of a shock though.
Ol’ Fritz – According to Katie this beer had a sour start but was surprisingly refreshing. Something that one could enjoy on a relaxing, lazy afternoon in the sun. She enjoyed it so much in fact that it was gone before I even finished mine! That is almost unheard of when you are drinking with me.
Brugge Madeline-La Framboise – When it comes to fruity beers you either have no fruit taste or a mouthful of berries, in my experience. This one though somehow found a perfect balance between fruit and sour. Actually, I don’t remember the sour flavor nearly as much as I remember the raspberry flavor. I know it was there and perhaps that’s what countered the fruit flavor. Either way, it was a very enjoyable beer that I could drink for most of the night. At least until I wanted something a little stronger as this little guy only comes in at 4.5% abv.
Country Boy Brewing
Warehouse Experiment #3 – I struggled with this one on the first drink. That’s probably because there were “291 hops aged in a blend of rum, bourbon, and whiskey barrels”. That’s a lot to take in all at once! Despite that concoction of aging though, it wasn’t that bad after the first drink. I would have enjoyed this more if I had more of it to drink.
Figure 8 Brewing
Devil’s Funk – This was the only beer that Figure 8 brought to the table for the Sour Fest, and that kind of makes me sad. The reason is because somehow the took this Belgian Tripel that had been aged in a Chardonnay Barrel, brewed it at a whopping 12%, and made it sweet! I’m not sure if that came from the Chardonnay barrel or what but somehow they made this insanely high abv great from the first drink.
Old Sour Cherry Porter – I know what you’re thinking, a sour porter? The answer is yes! Yes all day! Sometimes the best things in life can’t be planned, and this is one of them. At least according to the Rivertown brewers, this beer wasn’t planned. As for drinking it? Well, I’ll leave that to Katie, and I quote “Your girlfriend would like this beer. It’s light and refreshing. She’d be very happy.” I would have to agree, it is a very light beer with a variety of flavors that would wouldn’t expect from a sour.
Sun King Brewing
Cherry Busey – Confession time…I grabbed this because of the name. Hey, marketing works on the right audience, what can I say. This was a little unexpected though. Aged in both wine and bourbon barrels, Busey has a little bit of an attitude (not unlike its namesake), but nothing that an average beer drinker wouldn’t enjoy. Beginners beware though.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Death & Taxes – Belgian Stout – Don’t worry, when ordering this beer you don’t have to remember all of that. Even if you did, I would highly recommend memorizing it because you don’t want to miss out on this! Other than IPAs, my second favorite type of beer are the bourbon barrel beers (as if you can probably tell). So when I see one, I have to try it. Finding a good bourbon barrel mix isn’t hard, the hard part is making it have a sweet taste to it. This one, at 11.5% abv, connects all of those dots for an enjoyable, easy to put down, barrel aged beer.
Cherry Picker – I might be a little biased when it comes to this one. See, while at Bloomington Craft Beer Fest I was able to try this delicious cherry beer (not a sour). And it was my favorite from the #BTownBFest (for you twitter folks out there). I think I went back to have this beer at least 10 times. I couldn’t get enough. So when I saw it at Sour Fest, of course I had to get it again! This is a very light, and only mildly fruity tasting cherry beer. It’s the kind of beer that you can easily enjoy in those 95 degree, 100% humidity, Indiana summer days.
Upland Brewing (it was their fest after all)
Dantalion – You remember sour patch kids? That’s what this beer reminded of, just without the fruity flavor. It was sweet and bitter with an array of spices that will keep you guessing on the flavor. If you are looking to mix things up then be sure to add this beer to your list!
Malefactor – I really liked this one. It should also be no surprise that it is another bourbon barrel sour! Imagine that, right? But, there wasn’t a bourbon taste to it and it finished with a sweet sensation on your tongue that made you want to have another sip.
Permission Slip – Remember the first time that you ever tried something sour, and your mouth did that pucker thing? Expect that on the first drink of Permission Slip. After that your little taste buds will be adjusted and you will be able to concoction between Upland and Jolly Pumpkin. Two beers blended together to give you a very sour start but an easy and light finish.
Wicked Weed Brewing
Red Angel – I know. A 5.0 beer rating? Really? Yes. This was my favorite beer from this fest and I have to give it all the love I can. You see, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed this beer. I received many recommendations saying that I have to try this beer. In fact, during some of the heaviest rain during the day, this brewery still had the longest line and it was all for Red Angel. This Barrel Aged American Sour with Raspberries was an exceptional beer that only had a slight sour taste to it. The raspberries were definitely there, but the Red Wine canceled out the normal tartness that you get from raspberry beer. If you see this beer in a local liquor store, or on tap at your local bar, get it. Don’t even think about, just get it.
There were so many other beers that were available to try! Trust me, I tried them all! When it comes to “little” beer fests like this you get that chance. You get that opportunity to try every beer. If you weren’t sure about attending this fest, I would recommend checking it out next year. It’s a fun time, in an intimate environment where you get to talk with the brewers and other craft beer lovers from your city.
Now time for a quick plug for a local merchant that was so kind as to hook Katie and I up with some beer fest necessities! Pictured below is Jessica Fisher, the owner/creator of www.etsy.com/shop/dontworrybehoppy. She knits these fancy little beer fest sample glass holders, and you need this for your next fest.