By Alex Ganum, owner & brewmaster of Upright Brewing
As is usual, I’ve got beer on my mind. Brewing really never gets old, and enjoying beer sure doesn’t either. Here and there I find myself headed to Upright late at night, after 10 p.m. Maybe I need to check on a fermentation, or crop yeast at an especially opportune time, or maybe I just want to start getting setup for the next day. That’s likely an excuse to go in and actually unwind, which to me is turning up the stereo and tasting samples from barrels. We recently started renting a bit of extra space for more barrel aging, so I’m pretty floored about producing several new annual releases. Many of the ones in mind were made in extra small batch form in the past, like the Special Herbs, Five aged in Fantasia casks (we need a name for that one Angelo), Lactovasilios, and single cask Provision. There’s also completely fresh recipes in the works, like a Fantasia-esque brew made with beautiful muscat grapes, a wine barrel-finished whiskey version of the recent Spollen Angel tripel, and a barrel-aged coffee stout fermented with saison yeast. I’d really like to do an annual whiskey barrel aged English-style barleywine too. And we’ve got four casks of 2012 Flora Rustica in motion too, which will further rusticize (Breakside Ben – is that a halfway legitimate term?) one of the brewery’s most historic-tasting beers.
What’s about as far away from all those quirky beers mentioned above? Just about any German-styled brew. I say just because there is a Berliner weisse up there. Does anyone still drink those in Germany? Anyhow, our OBF application came in (yeah, they come that early) and I asked Gerritt if he wanted to make a Kolsch. He said yes (Occidental Ben – can we get a yeast pitch from you in June?). Last year we did an alt. The year before that we did a hefe. I liked both of those beers a lot, especially the alt which we had to formulate ourselves. I tried forking out the exact recipe for the awesome Widmer alt from Doug Rehberg in a state of slight inebriation, but he’s a pro and didn’t spill the beans. Close though. I think we’re going to run through some more German styles for future OBFs. Just for fun. Any suggestions for 2014?
I watched a video earlier today suggested by Bryan Keilty. It was of Van Havig talking about how stupid the craft beer bubble discussion is. That line about the muffler shops was golden; he is one funny MF. Upright is nearing four years now (Gigantic Ben – we’re releasing the Blend Love at our anniversary March 22nd; please come) and sometimes it blows my mind that we’re kind of an old brewery in Portland, considering so many have opened in those four years. Van is right though, and if there should be a discussion it may as well revolve around why our market/audience is growing with us because most of us brewers and consumers would like to maintain that direction. That’s why all these breweries are opening while very few close. You guys are thirsty and telling all your friends I guess!
This brewmaster’s corner doesn’t have a distinct point obviously. I’m just sitting at a bar and enjoying some beer. Hope you’re doing the same when you read it.