In an age of cutthroat business competition, the craft beer industry has embraced a spirit of cooperation. Breweries large and small are touring the country, exploring regional differences in ingredients, techniques, and flavor profiles, and teaming up with other breweries to create collaboration beers worthy of sharing. Collaboration beers also raise the national profile of lesser known or regional breweries and introduce their beers to new customers and new markets. All of this is good news for beer lovers. Here are a few notable collabs to share with a friend.
1. Collaboration Not Litigation (Russian River & Avery): When the head brewers of Russian River and Avery realized that they both had a beer named Salvation, the two decided that instead of slugging it out in the courtroom for rights to the name, they would team up and brew a strong dark Belgian ale that combines the best of California and Colorado brewing traditions. The result is a complex beer characterized by plum, fig, and cherry flavors accented by candi sugar and toffee notes.
2. Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout (New Belgium & Perennial Artisan Ales): Who says you can’t teach an old brewery new tricks? New Belgium teamed up with St. Louis up-and-comer Perennial to create a beer that scores high in the novelty department. It has the usual roasty, nutty, chocolate flavors you’re used to with big stouts, but a Belgian yeast lends it a hint of banana. Salt acts as a flavor enhancer, and there’s plenty there to enhance.
3. Double Dose Double IPA (Otter Creek & Lawson’s Finest Liquids): If Vermont breweries do one thing well, it’s create great beer in small batches that create loyal cult followings. Well balanced but packing its fair share of tropical fruit and hop aroma, this seasonal release ensures that leaf peeping isn’t the only thing that draws people to New England in the fall.
4. Dayman Coffee IPA (Stone/Aleman/Two Brothers): No list of tag team beers would be complete without at least one entry from Stone, one of the pioneers in collaboration brewing. This beer walks and talks like an Citra-hopped IPA, but the addition of coffee gives it a pronounced roasted character that starts in the nose and lasts all the way through the finish.
5. Saison du BUFF (Dogfish Head/Stone/Victory): When three industry giants come together to brew a saison, beer drinkers take note. Saison du BUFF tests an interesting question: what happens when you take the same ingredients (including parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) and the same recipe and brew the same beer at three different breweries? The result is a peppery, floral beer that takes on the unique characteristics of its place or origination. Last year, the project changed course, with each brewery taking over full production for a year until 2016.
6. Even Less Jesus Imperial Stout (Evil Twin/Stillwater Artisanal Ales): This is a rare collaboration beer by two gypsy brewers, Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin. Evil Twin’s Even More Jesus Imperial Stout serves as the base for this beer, which is blended with Burgundy grape juice. It’s dessert in a bottle for your next steak dinner.