Thirsty Thursday–Upstream’s Oaked IPA

Dazed and confused, then busy with real life rather than the beer life, this week’s Thursday libation takes place on Friday. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive my tardiness.

Upstream’s Oak-aged IPA back labelI visited Upstream Brewing Company, in Omaha’s Old Market, a couple months back, and found it to be a solid brewpub worthy of checking out (though I only had appetizers and need a return to check out the chow). In particular, I fancied their cask IPA.

So I’ve been looking forward to this corked and caged 750 since my wife picked it up for me. This is perhaps one of those beers that the Style Police will fuss about. Everyone’s familiar with the story about how IPAs were shipped to India. Back in the day, they would have been in oak barrels, but those barrels would have been pitched, so no flavors would have been absorbed into the beer.

Per the BJCP Style Guidelines, “Oak is inappropriate for this style.”

I once saw an amazing fruit beer get 2nd place, Best-of-Show, only because its base style said, “no fruity esters.” Well, of course, there were glorious fruity esters in this fruit beer. They have to ding them and choose a winner one way or another.

Upstream’s Oak-aged IPA

Despite the up front “flaw” in this beer (visible on the label), it was mighty fine. I’m not a fan of some of the stunt-hopped beers that are so popular these days, at least not where the bittering is concerned. I think what I am enjoying about these Upstream IPAs is their attention to the flavoring addition. As the back of the bottle suggests in a hand-written description, this beer has a silkiness to the mouthfeel that reminds me of the cask IPA I had at the brewpub. Of course, there’s a pleasant oak presence melded well with the earthy hop character.

Maybe the Police won’t let ’em win a medal with this barrel-aged choice of styles, but I’d recommend going out and picking one up, just for the sake of enjoying a delicious beer.


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