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Black Rose Blending Company

Madison, Wisconsin


Booze Rating: A-

Crusin’ Rating: B


This week we are checking out Black Rose Blending Company in Madison!  Black Rose Blending Co. was born out of the Former Funk Factory Guezeria which was easily Hannah’s favorite brewery in Madison.  Funk Factory had been focused on Lambic style beers - which are fermented from exposure to wild yeast strains. Kyle Metz, the current owner of Black Rose Blending Co., was the head brewer for Funk Factory for over 5 years, it makes sense that he continues to brew great beer for under his own brand, Black Rose Blending.  Black Rose Blending has a slightly different focus from Funk Factory, using barrels to age and flavor his beers and is starting to dabble in wine and beer blending.

Suffice it to say, most of the beers at Black Rose are going to be a little unique - and probably aren’t going to be easily crushable or even one you reach for all the time.  They’ve got some unique flavors and, when we spoke with Kyle, we learned that some of these beers are taking over a year to make.  

While it may be in the same location as the previous Funk Factory and features a somewhat similar layout Hannah took noted that the space has been cleaned up and updated.  A squat, concrete building painted all white, with a little grassy area that hosts a few tables outside is what you see when you pull up.  Behind the building a fenced-in biergarten, complete with stage, tables, and even some tin-roof overhangs has been host to many a party prior to the Great Taste of the Midwest.  

Inside, dogs are allowed - we definitely brought Barlow along as he is working on his beer-sniffing skills (he’s underage though, so not allowed to taste, of course).  There are a handful of tables, maybe seating for just under 40 people inside if you include the bar seating.  There’s a mural or two, clean floor, and tile backsplash behind the bar, along with a glass garage door that was open when we walked in.  It was a quiet weekday afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to shoot some questions to Kyle and gave us the opportunity to taste a few beers that didn’t make our review flight.  The biergarten is definitely the star of the show here and it might be just one of the best in Madison - although, admittedly, it’s much more of a courtyard- missing the greenery of a garden.

We snagged four tasters - no flights are available - but the tasters are 5 oz and fairly priced.  

From Left to Right: Alternate Forms, Cherries Simply, For the People, and Piquette Merlot

Cherries, Simply (5.0% ABV) - This oak-aged sour ale with three different kinds of cherries featured low clarity and was the deep red of cranberry juice with high carbonation. We definitely could pick up that sourness on our noses when holding the beer along with some vague red fruit mixed in - we didn’t necessarily pick up cherries.  To me, this was a beer with enough acidity to make you scrunch  your face up and to me, that sourness sort of overpowered whatever subtle fruit notes I would have picked up but I thought I detected just a little bit of cinnamon and cherry - not unlike a pie but then the flavor moved right back into overwhelmingly sour.  Hannah noted that it did taste of unripe sour cherries and said it was the perfect level of sour for her.  She really enjoyed this one- enough that she would have brought a bottle home but this one was only available on draft.

Alternate Forms (8.0% ABV) - A Bière de Coupage - or a beer blending old and new beer-this beer poured gold, medium clarity, with a light white head that retained its shape.  With an aroma of hazy summer prairie grass, cattails, pollen, and white grape juice, Hannah noted there were notes from the wood that, when combined with the grapes, gave her the impression of brandy - I had to agree with that.  With some acidity up front and then the taste of green grapes and a slightly dry, almost tannic finish, this was a strangely dry beer.  It really gave my mouth the impression of being thirsty while in a meadow in July.  It’s a very unique beer that if you haven’t tried before, you definitely should - note that is more of a method of making beer than a style - but definitely blurs the lines.

Piquette Merlot (3.0% ABV) - A piquette is sort of a session wine/spritz.  If that makes any sense, think a low ABV, fizzy, wine-like beverage - almost like a bottled sparking spritz that is made from pomace (the leftovers after grapes are pressed for their juice).  With medium-high carbonation and an almost purple hue, this Piquette featured notes of plumes and prunes when put to the nose.  Full of bubbles in your mouth and notes of dark red fruit and plum, I, personally, was not a fan of this style of beverage and Hannah agreed.  I think there was a lot of liquid that was fairly light on flavor and was simply fizzy - not unlike a wine-flavored seltzer.  It was definitely worth trying something new, though!

For the People (4.0% ABV) - A table beer using Kveik strain of yeast and fermented partially in oak, this beer poured straw yellow with a bright white, lingering head and featured high clarity.  With lots of hop characteristics up front when smelling, grassy and slightly spicy when put to the nose with a touch of clean-cut wood.  There was definite sourness up front when tasting along with some woody and floral notes, with wood winning out with a very attenuated finish and kiss of acidity at the end that made your mouth water.  Hannah noted that there wasn’t a lot of complexity here and you know, I think I agree here, I would have liked some of the spicy or grassiness to come through, anything really from the hops when tasting.

With the previous brewery occupying this spot being Hannah’s favorite, there was a lot to live up to here but you know, we left with two bottles of beer we tasted, and in all, Hannah stated 

“shoot, they are still very good.”  

Barlow Posing with our Take Home Bottles

Not that that’s a bad thing that the beer is good, but it’s definitely going to have an impact on the beer budget.  If you’re in Madison, I highly recommend a stop, heck, even coming from an hour away, you’re going to find something different and hopefully, something you enjoy.

Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!

To learn more about Black Rose Blending Company, please visit their website at: or on Instagram: @BlackRoseBlendingCo

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