In the crowded craft beer industry, awash with quality brews in an array of styles, how does one stand out? One tiring trend is to make the beer louder: big hop aroma, high alcohol, 100 IBUs, colorful labels, barrel aging, and the like. So when Colorado’s Upslope Brewing Company contacted Drinkhacker with their unassuming label design and reasonable 6.5% abv IPA my ears perked up. Will their minimalist approach cut through the noise?
“Label” design may be a bit of a misnomer, as Upslope packages only in cans and kegs in an effort to produce beer sustainably. Cans are lighter than bottles to ship, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint during transportation. They also use photodegradable plastic for their 6-pack rings, so if the plastic ring is irresponsibly disposed of, it will break down in a matter of weeks when exposed to the sun’s UV light.
Today we taste two newcomers to their 2019 year-round offerings, Upslope’s Rocky Mountian Kolsch and 2019 Experimental IPA.
Upslope Rocky Mountain Kolsch – This is brewed with Kolsch yeast and very light base malt, but that’s where the similarities to a traditional Kolsch end. Upslope eschews German hops for American varieties Mosaic and Lemondrop while pairing them with sage and honey adjunct. The aroma is all lemon citrus and sage, with some yeast influence and touches of cracker-like malt character. It’s got a bright, grassy-green aroma. On the palate, the beer is light bodied, very dry, with a snappy, mildly bitter finish. It’s refreshing and flavorful, but heavy on the sage. 5.1% abv and 27 IBUs. B / $9 per six-pack
Upslope 2019 Experimental IPA – The aroma is a fantastic combination of subtly toasted malt, like biscuit or sweet cereal grain, and American hops. The hops stand out by a degree and remind me of pine, grapefruit, and lemongrass. After a few sips you know this is a superbly balanced IPA: its bitterness is persistent but never astringent or overpowering. The flavor lasts long into the finish and mirrors the nose with American hops supported by a strong malt backbone. This IPA is surprisingly easy to drink and lighter bodied than I expected, but it doesn’t feel watery. All told it shows how the style can be full-flavored without bombast. 6.5% abv and 65 IBUs. A / $9 per six-pack