Friday, July 22, 2011

Upstream Brewing Company - Horse Feathers Rye; Gianduja Imperial Brown Rye Ale; Grand Cru

The Upstream Brewing Company is in Omaha, Nebraska.  They are a brew pub with a solid line up of standard beers and also ever shifting special brews.  Their food is pretty good too.

Their beer is generally available only on tap or in growlers, but these are some of their special edition beers that they bottle from time to time. 

Horse Feathers Rye - This 7.1% ABV beer was brewed in February 2011 and bottled in June after aging in Templeton Rye barrels.  This is bottle 443 of 480.

This beer is based on the Horse Feathers cocktail that was popular in the Prohibition era.  It was made with ginger ale, rye whiskey, bitters and lemon zest.  This is beer brewed with malted rye, lots of ginger and lemon zest, and then aged for several months in Templeton Rye barrels.  Templeton Rye is a prohibition era recipe of rye distilled by the Templeton Rye company of Templeton, in Carroll County, Iowa.  There is a tradition of bootleg rye being distilled in Templeton for a long time.  It gained notoriety for its quality in the Prohibition era, and continued to be illicitly produced afterwards as well.  It is available illegally to the present day, but several years ago a company was started to produce it legally using an old area recipe.

The beer pours light to medium brown with ruby and orange tint.  There is a tall half-inch of light brown head that dissipates fairly rapidly.  The aroma is very gingery, with strong aromas of smooth rye whiskey.  The lemon is also apparent, but is under the ginger and shows up as the sour note in the overall aroma of a delicious whiskey sour.  The taste is spicy, malty, rye, ginger, rye whiskey, lemon zest, and a note of astringent oaky wood from the barrel.  It is like a malty and flavorful ginger whiskey sour.  There is ample carbonation on the end and it then finishes very dry, but with all its flavors in the aftertaste.  This is a very interesting brew.  I would definitely get it again, but due to its rarity, I probably won't see it.

Gianduja Imperial Brown Rye Ale - This 8.3% ABV beer was brewed in April of 2011 and bottled in September of 2011 after aging in Templeton Rye Whiskey barrels.  This is bottle 422 of 500.  It has the tightest cork I've ever encountered in a beer bottle, which finally comes out with a champagne-like pop.  The beer pours dark black, absolutely opaque, even when held up to a light.  There is a tall half-inch of very thick and creamy head that is light brown in color, like cappuccino foam, and long lasting.  There is sticky lacing of medium to thick density down the glass.  The aroma is rye whiskey, dark roasted malt, oaky.  The taste is very dark roasted malt, some coffee and a bit of dark chocolate, some sweetness, but still dry.  There is a lot of pleasing rye whiskey.  It is redolent of whiskey, but does not drink with an overpowering alcohol sensation.  There is a tart note at the end.  The finish is slightly sweet, yet dry, just as in the flavor.  The aftertaste is long and pleasant, reminiscent of the flavors.  This beer is consistent from the first smell to the last aftertaste, full of flavor and complex.  A great winter warmer of holiday cheer if you can find it.

Grand Cru- This 9.0% ABV American sour ale was brewed in July of 2007 and bottled in August of 2008.  It is bottle number 960 out of 1126.  The beer pours the color of orange honey.  It is almost not carbonated and leaves a thin layer of relatively large round bubbles on top.  The bubbles are soapy in appearance.  The aroma is extremely tart, sour fruit.  Akin to a kriek.  There is a somewhat earthy mustiness, dry, oaky.  The taste is sharply and tartly sour with a fruity, citrusy aftertaste.  This is an intensely sour beer, but it has enough complexity to still be interesting.

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