Hailing from Bloomington, Indiana, Upland Brewing Co. is creating a stir among craft beer circles for its extensive souring program, which seeks to produce traditional lambics, gueuzes, and Flanders-style ales within the United States. This effort has notably spawned over eight different varieties of fruited lambics as well as the beer that is the subject of today’s review – Gilgamesh.
Brewed within the Flanders Red style, Gilgamesh combines traditional characteristics as well as introducing a unique twist in the form of utilizing bourbon barrels to finish the beer. After an initial struggle with the cork that left my palms a little worse for wear, this looks every bit the part of a typical Flanders Red, exhibiting a dark ruby color with deeper patches of mahogany interspersed within.
At first, the nose is acidic and has a little splash of vinegar, but not enough to be a turn-off. There is a bright fruit note as well, like tart cherries and a touch of banana. In the back-end, there is a very strong influence from the barrel, with huge oak notes and as it warms, you can start to get some of the bourbon.
Right away the cherries lead the flavor with their sour twang, which lends their tartness to the duration of the taste. It’s pretty acidic so that lingering note sort of muffles some of the other flavors. Compounding this is the alcohol heat that isn’t too shy to jump to the forefront at times. As in the aroma, the latter half of the flavor is dominated by the oak and bourbon, taking this beer to a completely new level that I’ve yet to experience in any other beer within this style.
Gilgamesh takes a typical Flanders, cuts the vinegar a bit, adds some bourbon barrel-aging, and comes out a winner in my book. Throughout my bottle this beer transformed multiple times, as first being somewhat high in vinegar, then very tart, then focused on the barrel.
A / $25 per 750ml bottle