Named after the unwieldy instrument that Charles Mingus so expertly wielded, Upright Brewing is a brewery after my own heart. Alex Ganum opened the Upright in 2009 in the basement of the famous Hazelwood Building in Portland, Ore.. Yes, the very same building that housed the legendary Dude Ranch jazz club. Upright specializes in farmhouse ales that are brewed with its own twists and fermented in open vessels.
Today’s beer, Flora, is a traditional saison brewed with yarrow and calendula flowers which is then aged for a year in oak barrels with lactobacillus. This particular batch was brewed on May 21, 2014 and bottled on June 5, 2015. A total of 94 cases were produced.
The pour reveals an opaque and almost neon yellow bodied beer capped by a pure white lump of foam. The head didn’t stick around for long and has settled into a ring desperately clinging to the edges of the glass. First take on the aroma is a bright fresh citrus character combined with wet hay bales in a barn loft. Digging deeper reveals that citrus note to be comprised of sweet lemon lime soda, e.g. Sprite or 7 Up, and just the faintest evidence of vanilla wafers. Presumably from the extended oak barrel aging.
Now for my favorite part.
My palate is in veritable bliss. The flavor profile is overflowing with lemon candies up front, wheat sourdough in the middle and a surprisingly sweet malt finish. Rounding those flavors out are undertones of cloves, tarragon, vanilla and a small amount of acidity. The mouthfeel is slick and a bit soapy with a light weight and a hard, almost chalky, minerality. Flora might just be the liquid embodiment of early jazz. It dances on the tongue and then leaves you wondering about just what the hell else in life you have been missing out on.