In my opinion, Upright Brewing from Portland, Oregon, is one of the best and most innovative breweries in the Pacific Northwest. I do not particularly care for their year-round brews but I have been quite impressed with many of their seasonals, sours, and barrel-aged beers (see this post on gin barrel aging). Not unimportant either, sampling their new brews in their brewery / tasting room on a weekend evening is always a good night out. In addition to their excellent gin barrel-aged sours, one of my favorite Upright beers is their seasonal, Fatali Four. Fatali Four is a barrel-aged sour beer blend to which homegrown fatali chiles have been added over a period of months to give it a distinct hot, spicy, flavor. Sour and hot is an excellent combination and this is the sort of thing that I could see a brewery like Cantillon do for their experimental Zwanze lambics.
Fatali Four is a low alcohol (4.5%) wheat beer with a “light use of brettanomyces yeast” and, of course, the addition of chiles. A vigorous pour produces a little head, which dissipates rapidly. This opaque deep golden yellow beer has an attractive earthy lambic-like aroma with notes of lemon, orange, and hot pepper. The taste is quite tart and the chile expresses itself progressively, most notably in the finish. The horsey nature of this light beer goes quite well with the chile and I am almost tempted to announce a new beer style (‘chile wild ale’). Despite this being a low alcohol, dry beer, the heat decreases drinkability a bit, but I doubt this beer was envisioned as a session beer. What will happen to the hot pepper notes upon aging remains to be seen, as I was not able to detect a lot of the gin barrel aging character that should have been present for this blend. An excellent and style-setting brew.