I’d heard about the impressive Sour beer festival put on by Indianapolis’ Upland Brewing Company. Last Friday night, while browsing on Facebook, I was shocked to see that there were still tickets available for Saturday’s event. What follows are the texts between me and my favorite beer partner-in-crime, Chris.
Needless to say, I was able to enlist him in my plan.
The next day, we made the 4.5 hour drive from Detroit to Indianapolis, arriving just in time to line up with the other general admission ticket holders at 3pm.
The admission line was well-organized and we entered the Marvis Arts & Events Center. Originally built in 1883 as an industrial warehouse, this venue has been rehabilitated to be a thoroughly modern, yet completely unique event facility. The event was held on the smaller first and larger second floors.
With gorgeous weather, especially for April 1st, the outdoor space attached to the second floor was a great area for escaping the throngs inside.
As far as the beer list goes, it was the main reason that Chris and I had made the decision to make the drive and attend.
The list of breweries included a number of the more famous sour beer artisans from around the country, including Wicked Weed, Cascade, Crooked Stave, & Jolly Pumpkin. It also included many Indiana and Midwestern breweries that were previously unknown to me or ones where I had tried only a few of their standards.
Unlike many festivals, most of the brewery tables were staffed with personnel from the brewery itself. It was an excellent opportunity to talk to these folks who were obviously very passionate about their beer.
Almost everything we had was impressive, but there were a few breweries that stood out.
One of my very favorite Michigan Breweries, Short’s, came with an impressive lineup of three sour beers and two wild ciders. They brought my favorite beer of the festival, Run, a sour stout aged in Two James rye whiskey barrels, with dried orange and dried cherries added. Such a complex and layered brew.
Another really strong showing was by Green Bench Brewing out of St. Petersburg, Florida. They brought four collaborations with impressive partners- a 100% brett fermented grisette with Side Project Brewing Company, a sour aged in wine barrels with Jester King Brewing Company, a 100% brett fermented farmhouse ale with apple cider & Amarillo with (Michigan’s own) B. Nektar, and Situationist, a sour IPA with kumquats, a collaboration with Against the Grain. While all 4 were collaboration beers, head brewer Khris Johnson was proud of the fact that all were brewed in their facility.
Another brewery well-represented was Missouri’s Perennial Artisan Ales. I’d had a chance to try their most famous beer, Abraxas, at Bell’s Funvitational back in September of 2015, and found it worthy of it’s exceptional reputation. I honestly didn’t even know they did sour beers, but all three I tried at this festival were really good. My favorite was Savant Beersel, a Belgian-style Pale Ale aged with Missouri-grown red wine grapes in French oak wine barrels.
I should mention the impressive list that the host, Upland, brought as well. On top of an impressive beer list, they managed to pull off a well-run festival, with a great beer list and manageable crowd. The only complaint Chris and I had was the lack of food available at the festival. Few beer festivals I’ve been to have had food options I would consider great, but at least there are some offered. It’s a small issue, and the only one we had.
Our General Admission tickets cost $70 a piece. There was a VIP Ticket also available for $100 (which was sold out by the time we decided to go) that offered an hour earlier admission and a separate VIP area with comfortable seating and some limited food. I found our ticket an exceptional value, and would have easily spent the money for a VIP ticket had they been available.