Beer Review: SURLY / J. WAKEFIELD INSIDE THE UPSIDE DOWN

Beer Review: SURLY / J. WAKEFIELD INSIDE THE UPSIDE DOWN

The visual allure of Surly’s Inside the Upside Down is striking. Poured into a geuze tumbler, the vibrant magenta hue catches the eye, complemented by a light pink foam with remarkable retention for a sour ale. Despite some condensation-induced cloudiness in the glass, clarity remains surprisingly high. The graphic design on the can, paying homage to the collaboration with J. Wakefield Brewing, adds a touch of aesthetic flair.

Aroma

The olfactory experience is dominated by the aroma of a melted raspberry popsicle, evolving into baked strawberry notes as the beer warms. While the absence of any discernible yeast aroma is notable, the fragrance is undeniably fruity. The interplay of zingy raspberry on the front palate and the creaminess derived from the wheat addition in the mid-palate contributes to an aromatic profile that captures attention. However, the overall intensity, perhaps a 5/10 on the acidity scale, maintains a delicate balance.

Taste

Inside the Upside Down presents an intriguing flavor profile. The initial sip unleashes a burst of high acidity, characteristic of an imperial Berliner or similar style. The creaminess from the wheat provides a respite in the mid-palate, reminiscent of the best Berliner Weisses. The expertise in coaxing out the strawberry and raspberry flavors is evident, though the boundary between them and cranberry or pomegranate juice becomes somewhat blurred. The finish, marked by a lactic and citric interplay, mirrors the experience of biting into fresh berries.

Mouthfeel

The beer’s mouthfeel, while not as creamy as a traditional Berliner Weisse, carries a unique texture. The absence of any yeast-derived funk contributes to a clean and straightforward palate. However, the dominance of fruit juice leaves little room for the grain and yeast to assert themselves. The hint of creaminess/oiliness is a subtle undercurrent amidst the fruit-forward cascade.

Overall

Despite its departure from the conventional Berliner Weisse profile, Inside the Upside Down asserts its originality with vigor. The absence of a yeast aroma and the overpowering fruit notes may raise eyebrows, but this beer’s strength lies in its authentic berry flavors. The 9% ABV, however, emerges as a potential stumbling block. The high alcohol content, coupled with the abundance of fruit juice, pushes the beer closer to a gourmet indulgence than a typical refreshing raspberry Berliner. While undeniably impressive, a lower ABV would elevate it to a more sessionable, summertime quencher. The real triumph here is the beer’s state-of-the-art expression of adjuncts, a characteristic consistent with J. Wakefield Brewing’s reputation for explosive flavor.