I received an email this past week inviting me to attend the introduction parties for Upland Brewing Co. to Oklahoma. I must say I don’t normally search these out nor have folks complimenting my body of work. That being said, Upland has their shit together with Taylor Carlier as their Influencer Manager. I spoke mainly last night to Dusty Howe, National Brand Manager, who is taking on this large surge of expanding into major metropolitan markets like D.C., New York, Dallas, Boston, Chicago, etc.
So with that list we should feel humbled that they chose to work in a market that doesn’t touch those listed above. Stephen Zadlo, Market Manager, stated, “It’s unreal in the Chicago market right now. More places around there want hyper local beers while we have found our sour beers in Michelin-starred restaurants.” So…why Oklahoma? “Well, we did a collaboration beer with Prairie a while back called Cursed Kettles which was a blast and sadly long gone. Also, the distributors that reached out to us made it rather easy to pick up our product and we felt it was a good fit.” After discussing it further with Dusty, having your beer expand is quite a lot like dating. There is the initiation of brewer to state they want to be in, send out some samples to see if there is a connection and then a visit to perhaps see if they are a good match.
I figure from my perspective most craft drinkers in Oklahoma have experienced sour beers through Prairie or had an out of date or infected beer. Destihl, also brokered by Atlas Brands Craft & Barrel, has brought in some wonderful options as well with their canned sour beers and oak-aged Saint Dekkera series. Upland was predominantly known for their sour program but also offers a slew of year round beers like Dragonfly IPA, Free Time Vienna Lager and Champagne Velvet which is a resurrected pilsener that was previously brewed by German immigrant and one of Indiana’s most popular beers.
With barrel capacity of 1600 bbls, Upland is pushing their sour program from coast to coast. You’ll soon notice their 500ml bottles on the shelves that contain fruit and spices. The labeling is pure genius as each one is snippet from a larger painting by a Bloomington, IN artist. Each has coloring that resonates with the ingredients included like their Darken, a barrel-aged Flanders Oud Bruin spiced with star anise, ginger, grains of paradise, black
pepper, and coriander. Flavors of spice, fruit, caramel, and chocolate are featured which resonate with the majestic hues of greens, purples, teal and dark gray on the label.
I sampled both Hopsynth and Iridescent at Roosevelt’s as well. Hopsynth is their base sour beer and dry-hopped with El Dorado and Citra hops. Bright, tropical fruit notes with a pleasant sweetness are balanced with the herbaceous hops. Iridescent is another sour in the series that pairs fruit and spices. This one in particular features apricots and ginger that meld quite well with loads of apricot flavor and subtle hint of ginger in the finish. Serve this one up with some spicy Thai food. Please check out their website uplandbeer.com and follow them on Facebook for future events. These beers are a real treat and I can’t wait for future releases like Prim, a fruited sour with plums and cardamom.
Oklahoma Craft Beer Podcast