Upslope Brewing Co. Brown Ale
By: Tyler Mais
Is craft beer culture becoming more like the wine industry? Are we, beer enthusiasts losing the true, rustic nature of beer? The homebrewed liquid made in dark basements, shared between friends. Are we being lured down a pretentious path full of fragile glassware and barrel-aged bottles by evil bow-tie wearing sommeliers? In my nightmares, I picture a villainous wine council. Comprised of rope-clad elders, cackling to themselves in a dank cellar while they plot the demise of the craft beer culture. Perhaps it is paranoia, but let’s review the checklist just to be sure.
Beer aged in barrels, check. Beer that must be served at an exact temperature, with the correct glassware, check. Beer pairing with extravagant meals, check. Giving the beer a slight “swirl”, check. Even the act of correctly sniffing, looking for color, and tasting resembles a similar process for wine. Everyone is guilty of beer snobbery at times, I know I have been. However, despite the growing popularity, specialization and an influx of elitism in the beer world, I still believe we will not be “swish & spitting” our beer anytime soon. My belief is reassured through breweries that refused to be duped, swindled or take themselves too seriously. Breweries like Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado.
Great breweries like Upslope do the little things right. Sour beers are made with fresh fruit, not syrup. Hops are imported from abroad, bought for their taste and aromatics, regardless of price or logistics. Samples are strongly encouraged, not begrudgingly given. Dogs are welcome and live bands fill the calendar. Oh, and did I mention they share an office with the famous yeast cultivator, White Labs! As taproom manager and badass Chad Piper puts it, “Our priorities are to our people” and the people have made Upslope a priority.
Upslope Brewing, which opened in 2008 has soared in popularity and has become the “Growing 15-Year-Old Boy” of breweries. They recently opened a new brewery and taphouse in east Boulder which includes 12 tanks and a top-notch canning line which produces an astounding 250 cans per minute. They distribute to Arizona, Texas, Wyoming and have plans to keep expanding. They exclusively use cans for distribution, a baffling prospect considering todays heavily “bottle-bias” marketplace. But after sitting down with Chad, he quickly educated me on the advantages of canned beer.
1) Zero light penetration.
2) Easier to recycle.
3) Better seal than bottles.
4) Weighs less than bottles. (A bottle occupies nearly 40% of the weight for a 12 ounce beer)
This last point is one of the main focal points for Upslope. Their beers are made specifically for the outdoors. Whether you’re rafting, hiking, skiing or climbing, Upslope’s mission is to create great beers to drink while exploring Colorado! One such beer happens to fill this role nicely and was recently awarded a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
First Impression: Upslope is not trying to be a fancy brewery. The Brown Ale can is a indicative of their “no frills” approach to brewing. A simple logo, ingredients list and ABV % leave the drinker open to possibilities and excited for the first sip.
Pour: This beer looks and pours like a classic Brown Ale. Rich, malty foam billows up to the rim before slowly retreating to safety of the glass. Upslope uses English hops, which may explain the quick dissipation of foam due to the beta hops heavy oil content. The aromatics are sweet, with hints of caramel subtle enough to warrant a second or even third nose dip. It has a medium body, not completely dark but with a hazel tint.
Taste: The Brown Ale wins awards for its balance. The beginning of the sip is the start of great things to come. Right away, I feel refreshed. How can a Brown be refreshing? Balance. Brown bubble brightness transitions into a rich, malty, even biscuity flavor. From there, a slight sweetness of caramel and nut cleanse the palate. And as that last drop escapes from your tongue, you find yourself taking another sip, until all that remains is an amazing memory.
Pairing: Roasted meats, English style stews or meat pies, sharp Belgian or even some mild blue cheeses and creme brulee.