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The Beer Circle » American Wild Ale, Beer, Gueuze, Upland Brewing Co., Wine » Upland Sour Reserve

Upland Sour Reserve

Upland Brewing Company is known for producing top notch American Wild Ales,* so it came as no surprise when batch 1 of their Sour Reserve sold out in mere minutes on Upland’s website. Much to my dismay, I was not fast enough to get a bottle. Luckily, Upland opened up batch 2 to a lottery system and this time my luck turned for the better! I tasked a friend of mine who was studying at Indiana University to pick it up, knowing it was a bottle worth sharing. Here are some notes on how the beer was made and Upland’s sour program as a whole:

We began our sour ale project in 2006 with only four oak barrels previously used to store red wine. The number has grown over the years, along with the amount of sour ale we’ve brewed. Each barrel develops unique characteristics as it ferments independently, and just as Belgian brewers have been doing for centuries, we sought out our favorite barrels, ranging in age from one to three years old, for blending. By blending the sour ale from these barrels together in various amounts, we created in this bottle a live harmony of tartness, fruitiness and layers of flavor that can never be replicated. We hope you enjoy it with friends, whenever and wherever.

Sour Reserve Batch 2 is the next in a line of beers we tasted on Zwanze Day, an epic day of amazing beers. It is a blend of Upland’s sour beers originally brewed in 2008 and bottled on March 16, 2012. In October, the beer won gold at the Great American Beer Festival. I’m pretty sure I understand why the judges chose it as one of the best sour beers in the country.

Upland Sour Reserve Batch 2
The beer pours a semi-clear yellow pour that hints towards brown at the very center. Only a film of bubbly, white head builds up and recedes quickly. The level of bubbles in the beer initially is high, but slows down pretty quickly. Relatively tame appearance.
The aroma is wheaty, with a nice musty funk to it. Tart raspberries, lemon, and grass provide a really nice balance here that really invites you to take a drink.
The first words out of my mouth after the first taste were, 'wow this is outstanding,' and my thoughts never wavered from there. The beer is aggressively sour with a really nice backbone of fruit (seems like raspberries to me). It's sour up front, but some sweetness and fruit takes the middle over. The finish is very tart, so much that my mouth salivates for more the second I finish the last drops. Hints of oak and red wine come out as the beer finishes.
Pretty light body with the perfect amount of carbonation. The balance of this beer really lend to its drinkability. It's bright, crisp, and finishes perfectly.
Sour Reserve is not a cheap offering, however. After winning the lottery, I paid $25 for the bottle and had to arrange its pickup and transfer from Indiana to Virginia. Luckily, this mostly fell on my friend from Indiana, who is a reliable mule. If you're willing to go to the trouble to get it, you won't be disappointed. Value is the only category I thought this beer could improve on.
I enjoyed this on Zwanze Day and consider it the best sour beer I had the whole day, which is saying a lot. I cannot say enough about how delicious this beer was. I almost wish I didn't share it with everybody...almost.

Beer Stats
Style: Oak Wine Barrel Aged American Wild Ale
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 5.50%
BA Score: 91
RB Score: 95

*As a heads up, we at The Beer Circle refer to Lambics only when they’re brewed in Belgium, all sour beers brewed in America we refer to as American Wild Ales.

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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