Uppers & Downers reminds us once again about what an amazing community of brewers and roasters Chicago has. The event last weekend at Thalia Hall was an incredible opportunity to meet new folks, reconnect with old friends, and drink a lot of different beverages.
Upon walking in, the smell of freshly ground coffee emanates from the row of espresso machines to the right. Metric brought the Kenyan Muthunzuuni Peaberry and had the pleasure of pulling on a La Marzocco GS3 Auto-Volumetric. The lighter bodied, tropical notes of the coffee came through consistently beautifully on this machine.
Across the hall at the foot of the stage were shoulder-to-shoulder brewers ready to showcase their coffee-beers. The people behind the bar were just as excited as the folks on the other side. Glasses were filled often and generously as everyone sampled the variety of interpretations that coffee-beer has inspired. From ultra-coffee-ish stouts, to coffee IPAs, to brews like the Metric-Maplewood collaboration. Maplewood's Bam Bam was a red ale infused with cold brew; meanwhile, the Meow Meow was a one-off project featuring a golden ale that interacted with crushed Ethiopian coffee and then sat on raspberries for color and a pleasant fruity tartness. Our collaboration with Off Color Brewing resulted in a well-balanced farmhouse ale incorporating our Ethiopian Hambela Genet, and we also had the pleasure of One Trick Pony using Metric's Gypsy Blood Espresso to create a kettle-soured Belgian farmhouse ale. Each sip showed a different way of thinking about coffee-beer. This event unites two industries with such vastly different methods and histories united by an intense love of balance, flavor, and nuance, and gives them both a reason to get together to make something uniquely wonderful.
In the middle of this beautiful space, there was an ocean of beverage-lovers from all over the nation. From seeing regulars from Metric West Fulton, to meeting the co-founder of Sprudge, to simply realizing how many people are out there who want to experience this enigmatic and expanding world of craft and collaboration--to be a part of Uppers & Downers was a learning opportunity, a social event, and an unforgettable experience.
It was honor to pour alongside some innovators in our field, and to share our craft with good people who love coffee and beer as much as we do. We thank everyone who supported Metric along the way, and particularly thank the show runners Good Beer Hunting, La Marzocco, and our partners who incorporated our coffee into their brews: Maplewood Brewing and Distillery, Off Color Brewing, and One Trick Pony.
We look forward to meeting up again next year.