Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Whale A Week: Upland Blackberry Lambic

Now in my second year, A Whale A Week is my challenge to try (with an array of beer loving friends) a rare beer for every week of the year.  Last year I had a great time with this and have continued it for 2016.  Not every beer will be a truly "white whale" beer, but all are hard to find and a treat to try! 

Upland Blackberry Lambic

Upland Brewing Company is located in Bloomington, Indiana.  They have quite a range of beers, many made with unusual ingredients, and are known especially in beer geek circles for their sour beers.  Our first taste of Upland was when Andrew Gieseke opened up the stellar Persimmon for us.  Minds were blown.  I then accumulated a few bottles of various sours in a bulk cellar buy a few years back.  Upland has a lottery/membership program to get first dibs on their rare beers (like this one) but one still has to buy the beer locally or have a local mule who can send it to you.  

This bottle of Blackberry lambic was from my dragon's hoard of sours, and is from 2014.  The beer has a rating of 92 on Beer Advocate and 98 on RateBeer.   The website gives this information:  "We like sour.  Made with real blackberries."  Very informative!  

Our tasting panel this session is made of: Me (homebrewer more than 25 years, brewer of lambics), Sarajo (my wife, lover of sours); Hassan Saffouri and Chris Kunz (beer geeks, Happy Gnome beer dinner alumni, veteran travelers with us on beer trips to Belgium).  We tasted this beer out on their backyard patio surrounded by a plethora of flowering plants, on a cool and overcast late afternoon.

OK, sad picture this week, but I needed to get this done!


Eric: Very tart and acetic.  Almost nail polish.  Raspberry and dark cherry.  Makes my mouth water just smelling it!  Light barnyard aromas as swirled.  Mint as it warms up.  Hints of melon?
Hassan: Slight funk.  Fruit doesn't come through right away but expands.


Eric: Color reminds me of watermelon--slight orange/red.  Moderate haze.  Very delicate white head fades quickly.  
Hassan: Rust.  Cloudy and opaque with slight head.


Eric: Initial sweet-tart candy flavor fades to a very sour acetic acid finish.  A cross between blackberry and melon flavors is strange but not off-putting.  I almost get rhubarb out of this!  Very dry with a sharp finish redolent of apple peel.  
Hassan: Similar to aroma.  Fruit doesn't come through right away.  Sourness lights up the edges of the tongue.  More tart with bigger sips and as it opens up.


Eric: A nice beer and a fine one to sip on a warm afternoon.  This is very very sour.  Not as complex as many fruit lambics.  I'm wondering if the fruit has faded too much with age. 3.75
Hassan: Good, but fruit (blackberries) doesn't come through enough. 3.7
Chris: Lack of balance.  3.6
Sarajo: Acidic...I think I need a Zantac.  3.75

Overall Score: 3.7

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