Midwest Sour + Wild + Funk Fest gets new West Coast brewery with Indy ties 

Rita chats with the Hoosier behind Cali's Casa Agria

click to enlarge upland-brewing-co-2015-sour-wild-funk-fest-90-1.jpg
Casa Agria Specialty Ales makes its first appearance at Midwest Sour + Wild + Funk Fest (which takes place June 4 from 1-4 p.m. at the Indianapolis City Market), though it’s a homecoming for co-founder Ryan Exline.

We caught up with the Southport High School and IUPUI graduate through an introduction by David Sims, whose connections with Indiana breweries is particularly food related. 

In response to my email, Ryan Exline wrote, “Thanks for reaching out, we are excited to participate at the Upland Event.”


Ryan kindly replied to my questions:

NUVO: What brought you into craft brewing? Where did the magic moment happen?

click to enlarge Barrel-aging beers from Casa Agria - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Barrel-aging beers from Casa Agria
  • submitted photo
RYAN: Casa Agria Specialty Ales was formed in 2015 when I was introduced to Eric Drew and Michael Weyandt who were award winning home brewers. They had focused on mixed fermentation sour beers and had developed a large amount of sample batches. They brought me on to help with the business side of the operation, getting the brewery licensed and running the Membership club. We had our first commercial release at the end of 2015. Personally, I have been a long time craft beer fan. This started after graduating from IUPUI. I relocated to Kalamazoo, Mich. for work. In Kalamazoo, I was introduced to Bell's Brewery and quickly fell in love with the craft. I then relocated to San Diego and was immersed in one of the largest craft beer markets in the country. After five years in San Diego, I moved to Los Angeles where I met Eric and Mike. When we first got started, we decided to send out sample test batches to beer bloggers and other craft beer enthusiast. This was our market study, to get feedback and see if this is something we wanted to take to a commercial level. The feedback was tremendous and Casa Agria Specialty Ales was formed.

NUVO: What happens at Casa Agria that's special?

RYAN: 90% of the beers we make are mixed fermentation offerings. The beers spend extended time in oak barrels and oak foeders. [foeders are specialized vessels to slow down the oxygen process to allow for a longer maturing time and thus produce an even more multi-layered brew than when maturing in regular barrels]

Sour beer is a very rewarding process. The aging process takes such a long period of time, you really spend time looking after every single beer. Casa Agria is located in Oxnard, California, which is a very large agricultural area. We have been able to partner up with local farmers to use their fruit in many of our beers.

NUVO: At Upland Sour+ Fest what should attendees expect from the brews you bring?

RYAN: Casa is bringing some exciting offerings. Upland has been extremely inspirational in developing our business. We are thankful to be included in the Fest. We are bringing four different beers to the fest.
A few beers set to take the stage for Casa Agria - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • A few beers set to take the stage for Casa Agria
  • submitted photo
1- Guayaba de Oro- Guava Berliner Weiss aged in one of our foeders. This is a beer we made for Cigar City's Hunaphu Day. Guava really shines through with this beer; it will be great for a warm day.

2- Agria de la Casa- Agria de la Casa is brewed with oats, rye and spelt and is mix-fermented with a blend of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, and bacteria then oak-aged prior to blending for packaging. The majority of this first blend is a low-gravity Saison inspired Ale which was foeder-aged for four months, resulting in a dry and refreshing beer with prominent acidity reminiscent of lemon and white wine. The remainder of the blend is a young version of the same beer brewed with more hops and rested in red wine barrels for a short time. The blending of the two balances the acidity and provides a more complex flavor profile.

3- El Fuerte- Oak-aged Berliner Weiss with black currants.

4- Plum Llorona- Oak-aged Gose with Plums.

NUVO: What are you anticipating with your return to Indy—have you kept up with our gifts of goodness?

RYAN: I enjoy coming back home to Indy; my family still lives in the Southport area. It has been really awesome to see the growth of the local craft beer scene. It seems like every time I come home, there are more and more new breweries making great beer.

Joining Casa Agria at Market Street on June 4 are:
DESTIHL Brewery, Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., Sun King Brewery, Black Acre Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Taxman Brewing Company, Thirsty Dog Brewing Co., 18th Street Brewery, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Bell's Brewing Company, Central State Brewing, Triton Brewing Company, Flat12 Bierwerks, Mad Anthony Brewing Company, MadTree Brewing, August Schell Brewing Company, Great Raft Brewing, Short's Brewing Company, Seventh Son , Country Boy Brewing, Tin Man Brewing Company, Taft's Ale House, Earlybird Brewing Company, Une Année Brewery, Prairie Artisan Ales, Bearded Iris Brewing, Four Fathers Brewing. Fonta Flora Brewery, Three Floyds, Goose Island Beer, Tallgrass Brewing, Mikkeller, Paradox Beer Company, Boston Beer, Brugge/Outliers, Circle City Zymurgists , Brooklyn Brewing, UPLAND and Penrose Brewing Company, also making a special guest appearance following the festival at The Koelschip, Central State Brewery's Taproom, at 2505 N. Delaware St.

The invite reads: 
Join us after Sour, Wild, and Funk Fest, 5:30-9 p.m., as we welcome out buddies from Penrose Brewing of Geneva, Ill. for their first appearance in Indiana! You won't find Penrose beers on tap again outside of this event any time soon so don't miss out on their killer beers.
Jake Koeneman at Central State Brewery replied to my request about the reason for special after party. “We have gotten to know the crew behind Penrose over the last two years as we attended various events in the Chicago area. Tom Korder and Eric Hobbs worked with our other good friend, John Laffler from Off Color, when they were all at Goose Island working on the barrel program. Josh [Hambright, CSB brewer] brewed a collaboration with Penrose earlier this year that is currently in wine barrels at their brewery.

"Tom, Eric, and a couple of others from the Penrose brewery team will be making the trip to pour at Upland's festival and then hang out at Koelschip after.”
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Here’s the Koelschip line-up from Penrose:

Session Sour, 4.0% Kettle Soured Session Sour Dry Hopped with Amarillo.

Waimea Tart Saison , 4.2% Mixed fermentation tart saison with Waimea hops.

Brett Brune , 6.0% Brett fermented Brown Ale.

Geneva Common, 4.3% Lightly Soured Blonde Ale with Hallertau Select hops.

Lime Zest Saison, 5.6% Saison with Lime Zest and Cascade hops.

Taproom IPA, 7.1% IPA with Michigan Chinook Hops.

The Penrose website provides this profile: “We focus on Belgian inspired session ales, oak-barrel-aging, and alternative fermentation. Our beers are brewed with intention, as part of a ‘beer first’ culture. Our pursuit of balance inspires effort to order to random. Our lives are enriched by personal experience, som more common than others, but each as unique as the next. This random collective becomes who we are, what we do, and how we remember. We liken our beers to those experiences.”  For more info, check out their website. 

Sour+ Festival Facts:

June 4, 5th Annual Midwest Sour + Wild + Funk Fest at Indianapolis City Market (East Market Street), 1-5 p.m. The only festival of its kind in the Midwest and the first in Indiana to focus on the niche of sour ales. Tickets: VIP $80/GA $50/DD $20. For more information, see uplandbeer.com.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

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Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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