Product description: There aren’t many kiwis growing in Indiana and they aren’t typically added to beer, but when we started making sour ales, our forward-thinking brewers wanted to do something different. They hand peel the fruit and add it whole to the base sour ale that had been fermenting for more than eight months in white oak barrels. The result is a fruited ale that is hazy and golden/straw in appearance upon pouring, with zesty amounts of carbonation. Fresh kiwi and tropical aromas combine with floral and wine-like notes, with rich kiwi flavors following in the taste, accompanied by refreshing tartness and a dry and tangy finish.
Upland Brewing – Upland Kiwi – 750 ml. bottle poured into a wine glass – 6% abv.
Sampled from a corked & caged 750ml bottle, Upland Kiwi is turbid, bright golden in color with high, soda-like carbonation that generates a short-lived, white top of fizzy foam. There’s an excellent nose right off the bat that reminds me of Belgian lambic with leathery dried grapefruit peel, rich peach flesh, flashes of sugar, saltwater, and a sting of impending vinegar.
Up front, the flavor is somewhat bland – there’s not much to it besides prickly carbonation. Mid-palate is mostly seltzer water as well. In the finish, citric acidity comes through, but it’s not nearly as sour as I expected sitting at a 7 out of 10. Nothing says kiwi to me, though. It’s such a nuanced flavor. But with more sips of this beer, I come to appreciate its refreshing quality like sparkling lemonade. There’s very little acetic acid/vinegar sting to the flavor, thankfully. Rather, the acidity is more in the citric/malic side of things like sweet tarts. There’s also a slight creaminess to the body, perhaps from the wheat additions. (Despite changing the name from Kiwi Lambic, the beer still has a lambic-type recipe with wheat added, aged hops, and lambic yeast.)
I think the aroma is the high-point for this beer, which hits many of the hallmark lambic notes while also showing off some powerful peach character perhaps from the kiwi juice addition. The flavor doesn’t quite live up to the aroma missing that leathery, spicy dried grapefruit character of top-end lambic while the juicy fruit flavors are missing.
As in my Surly Darkness review, I was able to enlist the help of some fellow beer geeks to blind taste test this with me. I did not tell them the name of the beer, the style, nor did I share with them my tasting notes until each one had a chance to discuss their initial impressions.
Two testers mentioned peaches in the aroma with one going further to peaches and cream. Both believed it to be a peach sour of some sort. A third tester didn’t note peaches but did say it smelled and tasted like sharp lemon and overall too one-note.
Overall, Upland Kiwi is a solid blonde sour. It lacks a recognizable kiwi component and doesn’t quite capture all the qualities it could with the lambic-type recipe. I tried batch one and batch two of this beer many years ago, and I had similar tasting notes that the acid was not too high and that they lacked kiwi flavor. To be fair, if I was served pure kiwi juice, I probably wouldn’t be able to identify it. It’s just too subtle and not as familiar a flavor to me.