Upright Brewing’s 3rd Anniversary beer ‘Blend Love’

Upright Brewing turns 3 years old this month and, as usual, is releasing a special barrel-aged sour ale for the occasion. This year’s version is different than previous years, though. Four Play, the highly anticipated sour cherry beer, has been replaced by Blend Love, a new barrel-aged beer in its second iteration that features the mug of beloved local brewmaster Ben Love of the upcoming Gigantic Brewing.

Join the whole team to celebrate the anniversary at the brewery on Friday, March 30th, from 4:30 to 9:00 pm. Blend Love will be for sale in 750ml bottles and one keg will be on tap. Bottles will be going for $12 at the brewery, with a one case per person limit.

It’s really fun to watch this video produced by The New School’s Behind the Pint series on Upright’s 2 Year Anniversary, wherein owner/brewer Alex Ganum mentions the first experimental Blend Love keg as one of his favorite beers, talks about changing the house yeast strain (which he later did), hints at brewing a barrel-aged Imperial Stout (that was brewed and released as Stout of Monte Fisto), and talks about wanting to make a barrel-fermented Berliner-Weisse (which was finally just brewed a few weeks ago.)

The new anniversary beer is another wild barrel-aged beer that will not disappoint fans of the popular Four Play. Part of the blend is, in fact, very similar to Four Play, with the same base beer and fruit. Followers of Upright’s small batch often barrel-aged Sole Composition series of bottles may note there already was a Blend Love beer. That one was a mix of three different barrel-aged fruit beers, but contained no wild yeast or bacteria.

The final version of Blend Love makes its way to bottles now with a label was conceived over a year ago as the beer improved in time in the barrels with the addition of Brettanamyoces and Lactobacillus. Four casks containing a sour cherry version of Upright Brewing’s Four–a farmhouse wheat beer–were blended with about a cask and a half of raspberry-laden Six–a dark rye farmhouse ale–to create this characterful sour ale, full of lactic and acetic character, fruit and oak tannins, and a light funkiness from Brettanomyces yeast. Upright owner brewer Alex Ganum said

“It was a blast to produce and then name this beer after one of Upright’s favorite people and brewers, Ben Love.”

the real Ben Love

As the designer of the label, I wondered what male model Ben Love thought of being immortalized on a beer label. A label he has not yet seen for himself:

I’ve never been immortalized in a beer label, or anything, for that matter. I’m still disappointed you didn’t go for the boudoir version.”

True, original ideas for Blend Love consisted of female models for previous versions of Four Play lounging around a semi-nude Ben Love. Ben’s own suggestion was to be wearing a smoking jacket and puffing on a pipe, Hugh Hefner style. Instead, the label went the artsy but still whimsical route with Ben Love doing his best impression of Brooklyn Brewing Brewmaster and editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer, Garret Oliver. Still, Mr. Love was happy to grace the label, even if not in his bathrobe.

It’s an honor. Especially because Alex and Garrett “The 3rd” have made a fucking awesome beer! I tell them thanks all the time, although I’m not sure that’s the right response, or enough.”

It only seems natural now that Upright has immortalized Ben Love, perhaps Gigantic Brewing would consider doing the same?

I already have a beer in mind… name and style…It’s going to be huge.”

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com