3 Reasons to Attend Upland Brewing Company's Sour Wild Funk Fest
There are plenty of reasons to take a weekend trip to Indiana but great beer is at the top of my list. As much as I like beer, beer festivals are not my favorite. They always start off great especially if you have a VIP ticket. But come general admission, there are often huge crowds of people sweating and stumbling their way to get to the front of a tasting line. Not my ideal scenario.
I much prefer smaller festivals like Upland Brewing Company's Sour Wild Funk Fest. In year's past the fest has been in early summer but they moved it up to April to avoid hot temps and summer storms. If you love sour, funky, or wild beers then add it to your calendar for next year. They sell a limited number of tickets to keep the crowd more manageable, invite awesome breweries from all over the country, and the Indianapolis location makes it is easy to get to from other Midwestern and Southern cities. If you need more convincing... here are my reasons to attend next year.
1. Discover New Breweries
There are craft breweries popping up all over the country it would be tough to find the time and money to travel and visit them all. I enjoy smaller beer festivals like this because you can try beer from breweries that you’ve never heard of. There were plenty of new to me breweries this year; here are a few that stood out.
- Scratch Brewing: focus on farmhouse beers brewed with home grown and locally farmed and foraged ingredients like oyster mushrooms, nettles, elderberry, ginger just to name a few. The brewery is nestled in the country just a few miles from the Shawnee National Forest.
- Mantra Ales: Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Mantra their beers are a delicate combination of art and science. A few of their beers use uniquely Southern ingredients.
- Commonwealth Brewing: A funky brewery based in Virginia Beach brewing traditional farmhouse beers, huge hop American styles, and the complex wild fermentations.
2. The Beer
Beer festival season is just getting started but not all fests are created equal. Creating barrel aged sour beers is a painstaking process involving brewing, blending, and aging. Given the longer process, these beers are more rare. If you're a nerd like me, attending a festival that is serving only sour and experimental beers is really exciting. It’s not everyday you can try Upland’s latest alongside favorites from sours pioneers like Cascade Brewing Company. This year Upland had breweries from Indiana of course but other states like Oregon, Colorado, Florida, and Kentucky made the trip to Indianapolis to share their beer. You can check out the full list here. Here are a few of my favorite beers from the fest:
- Living Proof: Strawberry Ginger from Country Boy Brewing, Lexington, KY - Golden base refermented on two pounds of strawberries per gallon and fresh ginger root. Perfectly spicy and sweet
- Recurrant from Wicked Weed, Asheville, NC - Red sour ale that rests for months in freshly emptied wine barrels on over a pound per gallon of black currants. Rich fruit and funk
- Prim from Upland Brewing Co, Bloomington, IN - One of the newest in the sour ale lineup, this beer blends flavors of plum and cardamom after aging in wine barrels for 3-4 months.
- Sumac from Scratch, Ava, IL - Ryan has been talking about brewing a beer with sumac for years so I knew I had to try this one. This bottle conditioned beauty is brewed without hops, bittered and flavored with staghorn sumac, yellow clover and rested on toasted oak heartwood from their property. Bright, fresh, citrus
- Tacenda Sauvined from Mantra - American sour aged for three months of 2,000 pounds of east Tennessee Muscadine grapes then dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops. This beer was one of my favorites because it was so different and distinctly southern. Tasted like summer down south with a funky twist.
3. The Venue
For several years, Upland hosted this event on Market Street in front of the City Market in Indianapolis. I loved this venue but it was problematic if it rained (which it did many times). This year they moved the fest to the Mavris Arts Center which was genius. The three-story historic building is a beautiful brick building in downtown Indy and provided cover and space in case it rained. Luckily it didn’t rain, so festival goers could enjoy the beautiful lawn and catch some rays on the deck at the Mavris. I'd love to see breweries set up on the lawn and deck area next year.
Attending Sour Fest is also an excellent excuse to have a mini beercation in Indiana. Upland's home base is only an hour away in Bloomington so I'd recommend exploring Bloomington before or after the fest to check out Upland's new sours facility and their original brewpub. Make sure you check out a few places in Indianapolis too before crashing at your hotel. I've listed some of my favorite places in both cities for tasty beer and food.
To drink & eat in nearby Bloomington
- The Wood Shop - Upland's new sours facility and 10 sours on tap
- Function Brewing - my other favorite local brewery with killer sandwiches (get the Southern Gentleman)
- King Dough - we eat here once a week for sure. Delicious wood-fired pizza, killer meatballs (served in a skillet), and yummy salads. They feature lots of local/regional breweries as well.
- Feast - my favorite cafe in Bloomington with a menu that changes almost daily. They have an eclectic beer list and creative coffee menu.
To drink & eat in Indy
- Tomlinson Tap Room - all Indiana beer inside the historic City Market
- The Koelschip - small but unique beer bar focused on funk owned by Central State Brewing Company
- Milktooth - favorite brunch in Indy with an excellent drink list. I mean check out this grilled cheese.
- Thunderbird - best fried chicken I've had north of Kentucky.
Hope to see you next year. Cheers!
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* I received a complimentary ticket to the festival but all opinions remain my own.