THE LIGHT AND DARK SYNTHESIS is a collaboration aptly named. Conceived by Upland Brewing of Bloomington, Indiana and completed by New Belgium of Fort Collins, Colorado, the project joins large with small, east with west, and mature with nascent markets; the resulting beers are as distinct as they are complementary.
Each beer contains 50% of one of New Belgium’s ‘house’ sours. Named Oscar and Felix after the Odd Couple, these two lagers serve as the basis for essentially all of New Belgium’s wild ales. Oscar is the darker of the two (1554 minus some black malts) and thus the foundation of Dark Synth, while Light Synth is based upon Felix (an unspiced Biere de Mars). Their remaining halves are handled by Upland, who blend in two more beers from their public portfolios in 40/10 ratios to complete these fruited lambic-style ales.
Dark Synth’s second half is 40% Dantalion and 10% Raspberry Lambic, giving it a russet color and a thin but lasting head. The Dantalion contributes assertive lactic sourness, moderately yogurt on the midpalate with a bit of Brett arriving late for texture. The beer’s darker malts and year-plus of oak barrel aging enhance the raspberries’ tartness, making them seem more like cranberry or blackberry. The finish is correspondingly tart and dry, astringent even, with a penetrating depth and touch of alcohol warmth. A bit of yeast funk combines with bright carbonation for an expansive finish with plenty of residual tingle. A little akin to an Oud Bruin baked into raspberry scones, Dark Synth is powerful and balanced.
Served: 750 ml bottle
Light Synth is an even more complicated blend, as its 40% component is from Upland’s Sour Reserve, itself a well-matured cuvee. The last 10% is generally their Cherry Lambic, though the version brought to FoBAB instead contained 10% Boon Kriek. The result is an orange-gold with a finger or so of pure white head. Cherries are present in the aroma, though its overall impression is airy and perfumy. The flavors are more penetrating, strongly tart with a bit of solvent or fusel burn, but still considerably more delicate than Dark Synth and with a lighter body. In fact, with its shorter finish, more restrained carbonation, and broader array of fruity esters, Light Synth is nearly dainty. Strong yet subtle, though not quite as memorable.
Served: 750 ml bottle