A tiny brewery out of North Portland, Oregon, Upright will not be a familiar name to most of South Florida, as it only distributes up and down the immediate Pacific coast. Most of its beers are in the saison/farmhouse ale style, which makes me a fan of Upright pretty much by default as that is my unabashed favorite beer style.
Saisons are complex, interesting, versatile beers, but wow, these Upright beers have boring names. There’s “Four,” “Five,” “Six,” “Seven” and some other brewery-only releases. I think I’ve had Four and Six; this is my first crack at Five. Cool label though, it’s a hop cone with an interlaid golden comma. Per the back of the label:
“Five is a hoppy beer, starting with a strongly aromatic and spicy nose. On the tongue, deep herbaceous flavors underscore a firm bitterness that lasts through a dry finish. This beer is made with caramel and pale malts. rolled barley, Willamette, Liberty and Perle hops and a unique saison yeast.”
Sounds like what one would expect from a saison, with the twist that this one uses a balance of American hop varietals, not surprising from an Oregon brewery. Most traditional saisons from Belgium employ European hops, giving them that clean, spicy-flowery bitterness. While Perle is a German hop known for its spicy character, Liberty and Willamette (obviously) are Pacific Northwest hops, which means I’m going to expect some citrusy, piney and possibly dank flavors and aromas, as well as a resinous bitterness more akin to that of an American IPA. We’ll see.
It looks more like an IPA than a saison, with an amber-gold body thanks to the use of some caramel malt, and a short but sticky head that shows decent lacing.
Hmm, very inviting nose. The first things that come to my mind are bergamot orange, honeycomb and wildflowers.
This one is made for easy drinking. I’ll get ahead of myself and mention the mouthfeel – it’s very “soft,” with fine small bubbles that scrub the palate without priming you for a belching contest. On the sides of the tongue, there’s some orange-grapefruit bitterness, but it doesn’t quite approach IPA levels. I’m getting a good deal of honeydew melon too, and some light white pepper and oregano spiciness. Light musty/leather funk not at all atypical for a saison. Finishes dry, but with a “juicy fruit” character that’s difficult to explain – it’s not sweet at all, but at the same time, the dryness is not anywhere near as austere as many saisons can be.
At 5.5%, all of this adds up to an easily enjoyable beer not much stronger than a Budweiser, yet with enough complexities to hold the drinker’s interest over the 750ml bottle. This is the kind of 750 you kill off by yourself, no problem.
I’m a fan of Upright, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to distribute to Florida, because it ain’t happening – I’ll have to be satisfied with the occasional treat.