On June 4, 2016, Upland Brewing Company of Bloomington, Indiana will host its 5th Annual Midwest Sour+Wild+Funk Festival, which, as its name suggests, champions the world of sour ales. Held in historic City Market in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the craft beer festival is the only one of its kind in the Midwest.
Tickets will go on sale April 8 (Updated from April 1), and historically have sold out quickly. Aside from the growing number of breweries expected to be in attendance offering up their tasty sour and wild suds, the event boasts a celebration of local music.
If you’re just now happening upon the existence of sour and wild ales, you may be wondering: Just what is all this buzz about sours?
The role of yeast in the beer brewing process is largely misunderstood and unknown by many beer fans. Well hell, it’s science! We know that it eats up the fermentable sugars in the sweetened pot of cereal water (wort) and then it magically-once thought to actually be magic-converts it to alcohol.
But did we know that yeast actually is responsible for up to 50-70% of the flavor imparted in beer and if that seems like a lot, imagine how Belgian ales separate themselves from others, just because of that special yeast.
Unlike producing a record for a four-part band, water, grain and hops do their part in the beginning, while yeast is like the drummer that anonymously sits behind the front men. And instead of laying down the beat at the beginning of the recording, yeast waits patiently until it is called upon to add its part.
And what a part it is. Several days of furious anaerobic banging, bashing and bubbling, yeast is the backbone of the tune and is the driving force responsible for turning this liquid concoction into delicious good damn beer. Then it tails off into more of a free fall, gobbling up every last bit of sugar.
Saccharomyces is the controlled and well-behaved yeast that is typically used by most breweries to reproduce their ales and lagers time and again, while Brettanomyces (“Brett”) yeast and its several different strains are the crazy little critters that dance to their own tune.
This slow moving, finish-when-you-feel-like-it yeast, ferments beer in a much different way and like a Grateful Dead concert, it does so unpredictably. Together with the weirdo Lactobicillus and Pediococcus bacteria, they create the power trio behind sour and funky beers.
Varying degrees of sour notes present fruity or earthy flavors but don’t be alarmed when you hear a descriptor like “horse blanket”-that is done on purpose. And believe sour-heads when they tell you these can be the most complex and flavorful craft beers you’ll ever have.
Upland is inviting many kindred breweries – also known for being sour beer artists – from throughout the Midwest and beyond to this festival, including:
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, Mi.-Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Denver, Co.-Wicked Weed Brewing Co., Asheville, N.C.- Yazoo Brewing Co.-Nashville, Tn.-Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., Akron, Oh.-DESTIHL Brewing Co., Bloomington, Il.-Goose Island Brewing Co., Chicago, Il.-Sour Note (18th St. Brewing Co.), Gary, In.-
Some local friends appearing are: Black Acre, Central State, Daredevil, Flat 12, Taxman, and others.
Here is what they are saying:
“As a commercial production brewery with a focus on American ales, we don’t often get a chance to play with funk. It’s nerve racking. However, as more breweries have explored sour beers and developed new processes I feel better in experimenting a little bit more. Breweries like Upland have really changed the game for us all and their work has provided the whole industry with more thorough knowledge of sour and funk. It is fitting that they put on an event like this. It has been a great project for us that we have been working on since last year’s event and we’re all very proud of the finished products.” –Sean Manahan, Brewmaster/Director of Brewing Operations, Flat 12 Bierwerks.
“Upland’s festival is one of our favorite local festivals each year. It’s a great chance to drink with like-minded fans of the Wild side of beer. We can’t wait to get our funk on in June!” – Josh Hambright, Co-Founder / Head Brewer, Central State Brewing.
“Taxman is very excited to be able to participate in Upland’s Sour+Wild+Funk Fest for the second year running. It was amazing to see that even the pouring rain (last year) couldn’t hamper the momentum Upland has been able to create with their sour program and correlating festival. With over 100 barrels in our cellar to “play” with this year, we look forward to bringing something unique to share with craft beer lovers who are willing to walk on the wild side!”–Leah Huelsebusch,Co-Owner | COO of Retail Operations, Taxman Brewing Company.
Join me in being just a bit offbeat at Upland’s Midwest Sour+Wild+Funk Festival on June 4, 2016!