I can remember when the first one arrived. Now I feel like an old Seattle beer geek and I’ve only lived here for 4 years now. Well, maybe I’m not that old. Maybe it’s just that NBB and Elysian are that damn prolific. Actually yeah, they really are prolific. The fact that Elysian can (and periodically does) do a tap takeover at their own brewpub, and NBB has more offerings in their Lips of Faith line than many breweries do in their entire portfolio, is more than enough proof.
For a great summary of the previous Trip beers, please check out our article from September of last year here.
Without further adieu, check out the dazzling details on Trip VIII below (courtesy of beernews.org).
The Trip VIII Imperial IPA was brewed at Elysian Capitol Hill with the help of Alex Jesse visiting from New Belgium.
“The main idea behind Trip VIII was to brew a true Northwestern Imperial IPA, instead of a Californian or American IPA….I thought the whole story behind the Falconers Flight hops was really cool: a blend of NW hops to commemorate a NW brewing Legend and help send brewers to Seibel was awesome… The craziest part was I had no idea that Markus from Elysian was the first scholarship winner! The Pale Malt is grown and malted in the NW also.” – Alex Jesse, New Belgium Brewing Co.
These newfangled Falconers Flight hops have been showing up a lot in NW brews lately. They are said to “imparting distinct tropical, citrus, floral, lemon and grapefruit tones”. Sounds awesome!
Here, in the third installment of the collaborative brewing article, we present a bit of a list of some of the most notable collaboration projects of the past, present and future.
This write up would be remiss to not mention the prolific Danish brewer with no brewery, Mikkel Borg Bjergso of Mikkeller. If brewing beer at someone else’s brewery were criteria enough to evoke the collaboration moniker, every Mikkeller beer to hit the shelves would be just that. Even still, Mikkel has, over the years, joined forces with Stone, Brew Dog, Three Floyds, Struise, Alesmith, Nogne O, and others to make some really exciting beers.
A collaboration that us Seattleites are very familiar with is that of Elysian Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. The ‘Trip’ series allows Elysian to brew with more volume on the New Belgium system and New Belgium to brew more experimental, small batches on the Elysian system. Lucky for us, these beers are only available on draft in the Northwest.
The first brew was Trippel (not triple) IPA, a Belgian-inspired Indian Pale Ale. Trip II was a unique hoppy Belgian Golden Ale spiced with lemongrass and grains of paradise. Trip III was a sour brown ale and Trip IV, a Finnish style sahti brewed with juniper. Beer Blotter will be on the edge of their seats in anticipation of each subsequent release.
The darlings of the Florida scene, Cigar City Brewing, just may be sending a bit of their art in Seattle’s direction when they collaborate with The Bruery in what will be the most anticipated collaboration release for yours truly. Keep your eyes peeled in July or August of this year.
Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, GA and Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, CO have actually decided to make a somewhat regular go at collaborating together with the ‘Midnight Project’ series. Brew One in 2008 produced Terra-Rye’zd, a black rye lager. Last year’s Brew Two saw Depth Charge, an espresso milk stout. Sadly, WA is not amongst the 6 states that receive these beers, but if you are in TN, NC, SC, GA, FL or CO, we will gladly offer you our address and some packaging materials.
Quite possibly the biggest (in terms of brewery size) collaboration yet sees Boston Beer Co. and Weihenstephan join forces. The largest American craft brewery and the oldest brewery in the world, that’s pretty monumental! The uncharacterized style will come at the intersection of brewing innovation and the old German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. According to Realbeer.com, “their yet-to-be-named beer will be released in both the United States and Germany next spring in cork-finished bottles. Effervescent and Champagne-like beer it will weigh in at more than 10 percent alcohol by volume.”
Another fairly sizeable collaborative effort came at the hands of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. These two have been quite active lately, in fact, on the collaborative front. Life and Limb came when Sam Calagione and Ken Grossman, two monumental names in American craft brewing, decided to cook up a beer together after sharing a pint or two at the Craft Brewer’s Conference. Their concoction ended up being a 10% strong ale brewed with maple syrup, fermented with a combination of both breweries house yeast strains and naturally carbonated with birch syrup. Limb and Life was also created in this session, a small beer made from the second runnings of Life and Limb.
Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, MO just recently made its first mark on the collaboration scene with a very unlikely cohort, the Belgian Trappist brewery Orval. Using an old recipe that Orval brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock had, an Imperial Pilsner was made using only one kind of malt, Saaz hops, water, and a lager yeast. Beer Blotter has never wanted to try a pilsner so bad. This beer is available in Seattle so look for it, we will be.
The final collaboration to be discussed in this round will be another America-meets-Belgium pairing that, well…I’m sure you can all imagine just how much that concept gets our blood pumping. Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego County and Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium have teamed up to make Bière De L’Amitié, or “Beer of Friendship”. Beernews.org reports that this 9.5% blonde Belgian strong ale will be released in June of 2010. Rye and wheat malts were used, along with Amarillo hops, St. Feuillien’s yeast strain, “secret” spices, and the whole mess was dry hopped with Amarillo. Sounds stupid good.
Any thoughts on collaborations? Know any good ones we missed? Join the conversation with a comment.
Collaborative brewing is a trend that has been impossible to ignore lately. It’s rampant in the craft brewing community. Beer Blotter couldn’t be more excited about this. It’s a concept that we wholly embrace. Communicating, sharing, supporting, uplifting. We do our very best every day to create a dialogue. To talk to brewers, bar owners, bartenders, bar patrons…beer lovers of every kind, to teach and to learn. To build upon this incredible community, to be a constructive member, to both give and receive. It’s a small faction of a larger concept…life.
It’s a really good feeling to be a part of a sub-culture of like-minded souls. We love and respect beer, you love and respect beer, let’s hug. When breweries that exist in the same sub-genre of commerce and compete for the same consumer’s (our) money decide to hug instead of scratch and claw, we get a little emotional. It reinforces how special it is…this community of ours. Breweries supporting each other, coming together as colleagues, teaching and learning from each other, and creating something special for us all instead of stepping on each other to reach the top alone.
A warming, parallel example of this hand-in-hand approach to capitalism can be found in the independent music community. Though it is not as common as it once was, the split 7” epitomizes this concept. Two or more like-minded bands join together to release an EP length record or CD, most traditionally with one new song from each band and one cover of one the opposite band’s songs. This can be very valuable to the musicians because it allows for a co-mingling of fans. Where one listener may have supported one band on a split and previously been unaware of the other band(s) work, there now becomes an instant increase in listenership. A simple concept, the more folks that hear your work the more potential for success. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it, but it takes a special kind of someone to put it into play and not feel threatened. Most “corporations” wouldn’t dare.
One of the first collaboration beers that I remember being privy to was/is Collaboration Not Litigation, an incredibly cleverly named beer by Russian River Brewing and Avery Brewing. This cross-pollination spawned from the quandary that both breweries had a beer named Salvation, Avery’s a Belgian strong golden ale and Russian River’s a Belgian strong dark ale. Instead of taking it to litigation in the court room, they hashed it out in Avery’s Boulder, CO brewing space and blended the two. The resulting concoction was truly a masterpiece (not surprising at all when you observe the work of these two master-brewers) and it continues to be blended and bottles to date.
One of the very first series of collaboration beers came at the hands of the ever –industrious De Proef Brouwerij. The Signature Series began in 2007 with a collaboration with Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing. This Belgian strong pale ale could easily sustain my beer needs for the rest of eternity. So good! The second, Les Deux Brasseurs, saw Allagash assist in brewing a golden ale fermented with multiple strains of Brett.
At this point it was quite obvious that De Proef had a firm finger on the pulse of American Brewing. Any doubts that their choice in counterparts came with a roll of the dice were quickly squandered. And, above all, the prophesy embedded in the split 7” theory was brought to fruition. To Belgians: a starter course on the strength and boldness of American brewers, while simultaneously proving a knowledge and respect of tradition; to Americans: introduction to a great, and inspirational, international member of the “in it for the community” brewer. Just mild research on De Proef brings to light their revolutionary “brewery for hire” stance that simply epitomizes the collaborative spirit.
The third, and most recent, was with Bells Brewery. This was a smokey Belgian dark ale of much intrigue. The 2010 edition of the Signature Series will be an Imperial Flanders Red Ale brewed in collaboration with Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, GA. Beer Blotter has one of each edition saved up in the cellar, and the addition of the 2010 release just may spawn a Signature Series Vertical Night. The recent announced that the first two editions will be re-released in mid-April of this year gives hope to the not-so-obsessive beer drinker/collector to reproduce just such a vertical.
Quite possibly the most notable collaboration in brewing history is the creation of Isabelle Proximus, or, the beer brewed by the Brett Pack. When a brew of any kind is made by the likes of Tomme Arthur (Port Brewing/Lost Abbey), Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River), Rob Tod (Allagash), Adam Avery (Avery) and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), beer nerds are going to freak. When that beer is a barrel aged sour ale inspired by Belgian lambics, game over!
The story starts in November of 2005 when Sam Calagione was working on his second book, Extreme Brewing. In preparation for his drafting of said book he asked each member, of what would then become the Brett Pack, to take a trip to Belgium with him and tour numerous Gueze and Lambic producing breweries. Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen and Boon, amongst others were visited and studied. Amidst their travels and through various sour beer inspired (drunken) conversation, it became relevant that a collaborative Lambic inspired beer should be made back in the States.
In November of ’06 the travelers reconvened at Port Brewing in San Marcos, CA, each with 4 oak barrels and house cultures from their own sour brewing program in tow. One base beer was brewed under the direction of all 5 brewers and then aged in 18 of the barrels. After the aging, each was tasted and then a blending of 17 of the samples produced the final product. Beer Blotter had the distinct privilege of tasting this extremely rare beer both on tap and in the bottle thanks to the crafty folks over at Brouwer’s. It was, as I’m sure you can imagine, an orgasmic experience for the ages.
There have been so, so many more collaboration brews of note in the past few years that we will just have to wait until part two for more on them.
To be continued…