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Friday, September 16, 2011

Upright Brewing Company (Portland, OR)

Getting to Upright Brewing is an experience, but there lie great rewards for those willing to find the building, enter what appeared to be a closed cafĂ©, take a questionable elevator to the basement, and traverse the unsigned industrial hallways until accidentally stumbling into the unsigned brewery, where a couple of small tables designate the tasting portion of the underground brewery.  Too cool for school vinyl plays in the background and the vibe is mellow.

A small farmhouse ale, Four had spicy esters and a bit of sourness to it from the addition of a sour mash.  Grass and lemon led the flavor on this beer, with a wild yeast profile adding an exciting barn-quality to it.

Five managed to be bigger than Four in every way, offering more sweet fruits (apple and pear come to mind) and some vanilla.  That said, the yeast kept this ale spicy and wild, with a grassy linger.

From the first sip, there was no hiding the rye in this ale!  An intriguing addition of the sour mash made rye, pepper, and chocolate pop, but somewhat lessened the dramatic impact of Upright’s signature yeast.  Six is a good and interesting beer, but not the most interesting offering on tap.

Seven is the “big” saison, and it trumps the already fantastic Five in almost every way.  Big, fruity flavors of mango and orange with a huge, creamy mouth feel and high carbonation defined the start of this beer, and the funk seems to be toned down significantly. 

There isn’t much to say about Engleberg other than it is a delicious and respectful take on the pilsner.  Light, slightly spicy, and slightly peppery from the hops; my friend had to grab a growler of it she liked it so much.

Ironically, Todo Modo was the most “Saison” of the saisons offered by Upright.  Lots of lemon, coriander, and esters with a funky kick of tartness in the fade. 

Hands down my favorite offering from their impressive line-up, Blend Love is a sour ale made by a combination of Four, Six, raspberry fermented Six, and cherry and raspberry fermented Four in various used casks.  Blend Love opened fruity and sour, with farm house funkiness coming through but never taking away.  The sour to beat in Portland.

This Helles lager was smoky and woody.  Nothing subtle here, and those with me who hadn’t experienced many Rauchbiers were extremely disconcerted.  Not quite a campfire in your mouth, but that smoky oak and maple flavor is the star of the show.  

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