In a third iteration as a festival (evolved from a some-more salon-like origins), this year’s book of a Uppers and Downers coffee splash festival—from co-producers Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting and Stephen Morrissey of SCA—proved itself a juggernaut and staked a explain as one of a unequivocally best coffee splash festivals in a universe right now. From a GBH agency’s design aesthetic, to a size of a roasters and brewers on offer, to a event’s handsome, historical venue, it’s a festival with something for everyone—provided we like coffee, beer, and a sequence between them.
Thalia Hall, home to Uppers Downers.
Over dual sessions travelling a caffeine and ethanol addled day, some 28 breweries poured some-more than 50 singular beers and ciders. Ales of all stripes were poured: wild, sour, stout, pale, brown, blonde, German, and Belgian (just to steal a few descriptors). Some were big, boozy imperials, other were day-drinking-friendly low-alcohol-by-volume green and eventuality ales. There were opaque, inky stouts and transparent, golden ales. There unequivocally was something for everybody (unless we usually splash pilsners, in that box hopefully being in a Pilsen area of Chicago would suffice).
One of a highlights for coffee lovers was really a gauntlet of La Marzocco GS3s and Linea Minis supposing by unite La Marzocco Home and helmed by reps from some of a best and many obvious roasters in a country. None of a shots we attempted disappointed—which presented a bit of a problem in terms of over-caffeination, though such is life. The Uppers on offer during this fest were truly a inhabitant affair, from Stumptown Coffee Roasters (based in Portland, entrance shortly to Chicago) through midwest stalwarts like PT’s Coffee Roasting Company, Intelligentsia Coffee, and Madcap Coffee Company, to bi-coastal Counter Culture Coffee, roasters vast and tiny manned a event’s espresso row.
In further to pulling espresso shots, unite Stumptown sent a organisation to helm a cold decoction bar where they showed off their new Sparkling Cold Brew cans alongside their some-more normal cold offerings. They were also pouring coffee and splash blends on site, including a spin on a normal black and tan; where routinely a nitro vigourous floats on a flow of a traditionally CO2-carbonated dim ale, Stumptown’s take saw them adding their nitro cold decoction to a 3 Floyds Brewing Company Yum Yum eventuality ale for a truly vast drink.
Alongside smaller, internal breweries with singular placement were tangible names like Firestone Walker Brewing Company (who brought a coffee several chronicle of their torpedo Parabola majestic stout) and Perennial Artisan Ales (who showed adult pouring their recently-released 2017 Sump majestic stout, with Scott Carey of Sump Coffee also on palm with espresso). Those alone will get splash fans to take notice, though a biggest singular splash nerd captivate might be Goose Island’s storied Bourbon County Stout; a sponsoring brewery brought 4 years of coffee variants, 3 of that were offering in a special “vertical” tasting (same beer, 3 apart years): 2012, 2013, and 2014 poured subsequent to any other for a comparison sherpa’d by Goose Island brewers. Judging by a line that snaked around a room for this, few attendees could pass adult a possibility to ambience these beers that usually critical collectors (yes, collectors) can get their hands on these days.
Beyond usually tasting with some occasional interaction, Uppers Downers goes deeper with “Case Studies” of splash and coffee pairs. On palm were brewers and roasters to speak about a sum of their pairings. In a initial session, internal neighbors Whiner Beer Company and Four Letter Word Coffee presented a tasting with dual beers and dual coffees; 4 sum coffee beers permitting participants to representation a variations in combination. The beers were Soupe du Jour (a red booze barrel-aged kettle green saison) and Fur Coat (a Belgian dim ale); a coffees were a healthy routine Ethiopia Geisha Village/Geisha 1931 and a lactic-fermented Colombia La Palma y El Tucan SL-28 (Four Letter Word was also pulling shots of a latter in a initial session).
In a second session, visit pairing partners Solemn Oath Brewery and Intelligentsia brought 6 opposite beers of several styles utilizing several Intelli-roasted beans. The hosts even suggested an off-menu treat: pairing of a fresh, cooled shot of their Peru Rayos del Sol combined to a flow of a Wee-Bey del Sol (a thwart barrel-aged thwart ale brewed with a same coffee) supposing an additional means of exploring a interplay of coffee and splash flavors.
But given accumulation is a piquancy of life, there was also a possibility to ambience a juicy Wake Bake julep (made with Stumptown cold brew) pleasantness of Dusek’s Chicago, leader of a Uppers Downers preface cocktail competition. A rye and Fernet-based cocktail, it managed to be lovely and herbal but tasting medicinal (and demeanour vast with a cardamom-roasted macadamia nuts and packet garnish). Also on palm were some juicy fry pig bites pleasantness of Chicago grocer Rob Levitt (of Butcher Larder and baked treats from Bang Bang Pie.
And if all that weren’t enough, for a second year running, Sprudge and Good Beer Hunting partnered on an after-party of sorts—the next-day Hangover Party during a Good Beer Hunting studios in a Logan Square area of Chicago. Scratch biscuits and pecan cake from Bang Bang Pies, some bottled coffee beers to share, and of march aspirin, were on palm for a die-hards and loyal aficionados who wanted a look into a GBH bureau while Michael Kiser and Stephen Morrissey available a podcast part with guest from a before day’s eventuality (including Sprudge’s possess Jordan Michelman).
Having anchored Uppers Downers as a festival of all things coffee/beer/coffee splash in a Midwest, be on a surveillance for this event’s enlargement and expansion. Especially Sprudge readers in London—you have something special entrance your approach soon.
D. Robert Wolcheck is a Sprudge writer formed in New York City. Read some-more D. Robert Wolcheck on Sprudge.