Every spring we host a home brewing competition and home brewing rally to connect with home brewers in our area and taste some interesting beers. Our winner this year, Brandon Schaefer, created a unique beer dubbed Purple Reign, a saison brewed with blackberries and Earl Grey Tea. Last week, Upland invited Brandon into our brewhouse to brew a production batch of his recipe, scaling his recipe up from 5 gallons to 1,150 gallons.


We put Brandon to work immediately in the morning, milling the grains and mashing in his recipe. A highlight of the brew day was adding the tea leaves to the whirlpool.  In honor of his Louisville roots, we sourced the tea from our friends at Heine Brothers Coffee. After primary fermentation is complete, we will add the Blackberries to give the beer it’s purple color and distinct fruit character.


upcup winner


As a brewer, it’s always fun to mix traditional styles with non-traditional ingredients. In Purple Reign, look for the Saison base beer to blend in harmony with the blackberries and tea, three distinct tastes that each contribute to the overall flavor of the beer with out overpowering the other ingredients.


We wanted Brandon to weigh in on his brew day experience so here’s what he had to say…

“One of the things I love about brewing is balancing flavors to create a unique beer to share with friends and family. Purple Reign was an exercise in how to balance blackberries with the strong black tea and bergamot orange flavors of Earl Gray, brewed with the spicy character of a Belgian Saison as its base. I kept hop additions as a bittering agent only to allow the tea to come forward, and selected a highly attenuating yeast strain to promote a dry finish.



What I did not anticipate however, was picking up such an intense purple hue from the blackberries, thus inspiring the name Purple Reign.


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I was honored and humbled to have the opportunity to brew with Patrick and the crew at Upland earlier this month. Participating in a brew at a commercial scale is something that I had only dreamt of, and it was only sweeter than it was a recipe that I had designed. Patrick made our brew day highly educational, very memorable, and most importantly fun – for example we listened to Prince in the brewery while the beer was in the whirlpool.


I cannot wait to have the opportunity to share a Purple Reign with you. Cheers!”


Look out for Purple Reign Saison on tap at Upland brew pubs and tasting rooms July 29th!


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