Brewmaster Caleb Staton is barreled over by sour ales, and soon you will be, too.
Back in 2006, Upland brewmaster Caleb Staton secretly swapped eight cases of beer for four white oak barrels from local Oliver Winery in hopes of starting the brewery’s first sour beer program.
“I actually snuck these barrels in under the radar,” remembers Staton. “We had so little into it: One batch of beer, and if it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out.” Considering the program now produces some of the most sought-after lambics in the country—one customer even drove down from Quebec for Upland’s second fruit lambic release—the swap seems to be a success. Fresh off a GABF gold medal for its Sour Reserve, Upland’s sours are about to get even better.
Late last year, Upland moved the production of its regular lineup (which includes Wheat Ale, Dragonfly IPA and Helios Ale) to a new facility; the sour program stayed behind, and Staton’s using the extra space to expand the extremely limited, highly coveted line. His stacks of barrels now count 140; they house a range of lambics, which will be on Staton’s mind as he spends this spring filling the collection with new “works in progress” for future blending. Of course, this is on top of the fruit lambics (raspberry, kiwi and persimmon among them), the Flanders brown Dantalion Dark Wild Ale, and a Flanders red formerly known as Gilgamesh that will also see increased production; Staton’s gunning for three to four sour-release events this year, and more in 2014. But stay patient: These beers take time.
Click the image above for notes on what’s in those barrels.