WITH SIX OFFICIAL flavors of fruit ‘lambic’ to their name (with the inspired Paw Paw soon to make seven, hopefully), Upland Brewing have virtually made themselves into the Fanta of sour ales. Upland’s brews are more artfully designed and the perfect opposite of sweet, of course, but the template is similar: zippily carbonated and tangy fruit beverages that derive a rainbow of flavors from a similar foundation.
But not quite an identical one. Whereas their aforementioned Paw Paw variation is creamily smooth and the Strawberry a tart liquid pie, Upland’s Blackberry Lambic is a distinctly funkier, even harsher, brew. Colored a cidery rhubarb and capped with a thin white head, it’s earthy, slatey, tinged with vinegar, a little sweaty, with a deep berry tartness that clouds and cloaks the palate more than it clarifies. The body is a notch or two heavier than expected, but the finish is quite dry and effervescent, with a spike of tartness that stays on the tongue and a slight acidic burn down the throat. It seems likely that a good deal of this beer’s intensity stems from the blackberries themselves, which the wild yeasts and acetic acid concentrate instead of complementing, say, the sweetness of strawberry. This focused intensity will make Blackberry Lambic a hit with intense sourheads, but those looking for broader flavor profiles or more pronounced yeast signatures will find more satisfaction elsewhere—in Upland’s Dark Synth collaboration with New Belgium, perhaps?
Served: 750 ml bottle (Skyline Loft, FoBAB 2013, Chicago)