Upland’s Sour Ales Are A Hit In Broad Ripple & Beyond
Writer / Alesha McCarty
Photographer / Michael Durr
It’s no secret that Hoosiers love good craft beer. Recently, local breweries have gotten a little funky with their craft. At the forefront of the Sour Ale Craft is Upland Brewery. Upland started crafting delicious, off-beat American Wild Ales in 2006 and has become one of the largest sour production facilities in the region.
The process starts at Uplands’ Wood Shop, where all their sour ales are; brewed, wood-aged, and packaged in Bloomington, then shipped regionally and nationally, including the Upland Tasting Room, at 49th and College Avenue.
Employees seem to have some things in common, including a love of good libations and community. Brian Hettmansperger, Upland Southern Indiana marketing manager. “I just love sours,” Hettmansperger says. He notes two bestsellers that he enjoys: Revive and Prim. Revive, a fruited sour-ale, and one of the first sours Upland brewed, with pineapple and chamomile. “Revive is the perfect refreshing summertime sour,” he says. Prim is loaded with plums and steeped with cardamom.
It has a lovely; depth of flavor and will resonate with fellow wine lovers. With more than 30 sours available, there’s something for everyone. Upland’s most notable sour, the raspberry-fruited ale, a crowd favorite, winning (and still holding) the title 2018 Best American Sour. Raspberry contains more than 3.5 pounds of fresh raspberries per gallon and delights all your senses with a bright pink hue, strong raspberry aroma, and a tart flavor, ending in light floral notes.
In 2006, one of Upland’s brewers was inspired by the Belgium Lambic style. Upland reached out to Oliver Winery and offered to trade them cases of beer for barrels of wine. After the first couple of Lambic releases during their popular Sour Lottery, “Upland received a ‘cease and desist’ notice from the whole country of Belgium.” Hettmansperger says. “‘Only beers produced in the Lambic region using open-air fermentation could be called Lambic.’Upland rebranded as ‘American Sour Ales.’ After overcoming this “small” conflict with the whole country of Belgium, history was made.
The Sour Ales were so popular Upland Brewery invested in their new space, the Wood Shop Sour Brewery, in 2016. The Wood Shop houses their foeders (pronounced food-ers) for making sours, ensuring that the mixed cultures do not contaminate other beers. Other breweries allocate a separate space within their brewery.
All brews start in the grain room and use regional grain, such as Indiana-produced Sugar Creek malt, grains from Wisconsin or aging hops from Indy High Vines. Their mash tun, aka “Mashtun Kutcher,” is a 35-barrel vessel where grain is naturally separated from its husk. Upland works with local farmers who use the spent grain for animal feed.
Most breweries then put everything into a stainless-steel brewer for 14 days. Upland uses a wooden-fermenter and pitches a mixed culture, then ages it from three months up to three years.
Every ale starts in their original foeder, “General Sherman,” creating a consistent house strain. The connection between the brewhouse and the Wood Shop is just under foot, pipes run underneath the parking lot to transfer the basis.
At the front, you’ll find Ige, Ray and Roux, Upland’s 90-barrel French foeders, and, ‘O’ Fallen,’ a 100-barrel foeder from St. Louis. The brewers chose blends of Basis to design their flavor profiles.
Then they add fruit (locally sourced when possible) and spices. Employee’s hand pit and slice fruit, such as in the Peach Sour Ale, containing 4,400 pounds of peaches per batch. Upland’s sources Evansville’s Hoosier pawpaw for the Pawpaw Wild Ale sources.
Working in the Wood Shop, Upland employees bottle, package, and label all their product on site. The finished Sour Ales are then shipped cold directly from the warehouse.
Consider picking up Sour Ales directly from your local Upland location, as you’ll have an opportunity to taste and chat with employees, like the College Avenue Tasting Room. Andrew Priller, General Manager of the College Avenue location, says, “We’re vibrant with regulars.”
Andrew, a long-time resident, says the location is “a mecca for neighborhood locals,” and many “had their first experience with sours here.” The tasting room has an authentic feel with eclectic furnishings and a vibe where “everybody is welcome,” Andrew adds.
Liz and Mat Huber are examples of everybody.
“Every Friday, we walk over and order from the window, or come for date night; it’s just comfortable,” Liz says. “You can grab a bottle to-go or purchase one at your table,” Andrew says, whose favorite sour is Peach. However, he says, “the Sour Reserve seems to be popular here.”
You can find Upland Brewery sours at Upland locations, SoBro Spirits and most major liquor stores. So, Broad Ripple, are you ready to get wild?