I like beer, you like beer, we all like beer. No, seriously, I know we all like beer. With roughly 439 trillion websites dedicated solely to the world of pornography, there has to be some compelling reason that you keep reading this lowly little blog instead of wandering off. Not to say you don’t like porn – You just like beer too. You know who else likes beer? Brewers! They love the stuff. Brewers love beer so much that, get this, they like to brew beer with other brewers! Nothing says you love your craft more than giving up some personal control of your product and sharing ideas with a direct competitor. That’s collaboration my friend, and it’s taking the beer-world by storm.
Collaboration certainly isn’t a new concept in brewing. We’ve posted several examples of the good that can come out of collaborating with other brewers, most notably with Russian River and Avery teaming up to create their delicious BSDA, Collaboration, Not Litigation. Brother Barley even used that beer as an example of the brotherhood of craft beer, taking the opportunity to extol the virtues of brewers like Avery, Russian River, Maui Brewing, and Oskar Blues while tearing down macro-brewpub Gordon Biersche for their labelistic douchery. See, some brewers understand the benefit of banding together while others miss the point all together.
Collaboration brews can take on many forms. With the Russian River/Avery mashup, they simply combined Avery’s Salvation Belgian Pale with RR’s Salvation Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Easy enough, two beers with the same name, just toss em’ in a bucket and grab the bottles. Other brewers go a step further, as was the case with the collaboration between Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone with their Saison du BUFF. Working off of the same recipe for a Saison, which included parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, the beer was set to be brewed on three separate occasions, once at each brewery. Not my favorite beers in the world, but a really cool concept nonetheless. There are a slew of other fun collaborations out there from teams like Sierra Nevada & Anchor, Ommegang & Brasserie d’Achouffe, and even Sam Adams & Wiehenstephan. Every couple of weeks it seems as if there’s another unique collaboration in the works, each one more interesting than the last.
I’m a sucker for concept beers, so collaboration brews are nearly impossible for me to pass up (Same goes for any hybrid styles or mashups). I may not buy much Anchor or Sierra these days, but tell me that Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman are brewing a special beer that comes with a hefty price tag and I’m sold. It’s just that easy. Recently, I came across a collaboration beer that screamed “Buy Me!” from the Belgian aisle of my favorite package store. You may not know of De Proef, a funky little experimental Belgian brewery created by mastermind Dirk Naudts, but you should take notice of the cool shit that they do. For their Brewmasters Collaboration Series, De Proef has teamed up in the past with the likes of Bells, Allagash, and San Diego’s Port Brewing to create unique beers that mix American and Belgian techniques, splashed with a nice dose of brettanomyces. Did I say San Diego’s Port Brewing, one of my favorite ale factories the world over? I think I did. I give you, De Proef Reserve Signature Ale with Tomme Arthur.
NOTES: 12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass. Allegedly it’s a West Coast IPA dosed with Brett, but we’ll see
STYLE: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
APPEARANCE: Opaque, faint amber color. Looks like a creamy glass of apple cider if ever there was such a thing
HEAD: Thick and creamy, this thing aint’ going anywhere. Good inch of bright, white cotton
LACING: Surprisingly not much. The head seems to move down the glass, but nothing is really left behind
NOSE: Sour, tangy, lemony, mouth-watering. I wrote a note down stating “Lambiquesque”, spelled just like that. To me, the nose took on some Lambic qualities but nothing that would make you think you were bellying up to a Gueuze or even a Flemish Sour for that matter. Just a slight touch of funk, nothing crazy. Predominant fresh apple finish, maybe some clove and raisins sneaking through
TASTE: The apple notes that finished off the nose attack the taste buds first. Lots of fruit. Almost immediately though the fruit is washed away be a super dry, chalky, bitter presence that goes right through to the finish. I wouldn’t call it a typical West Coast holiness, although some citrus is present. It’s more of a Belgian IPA dryness, mixed in with a fruity yeast strain that’s far from sour at this point. The nose and the taste are far apart but work wonderfully together
MOUTHFEEL: Creamy, coating. Good carbonation in the body, plenty of weight
DRINKABILITY: I really enjoyed where this beer was taking me, even if I had no idea where it might end up. One thing I really didn’t notice was the alcohol. I mean, nothing. I could sip these all night long. What I enjoyed most though is that this beer showed me what a true collaboration could be. If you wanted to throw a little Belgian spin on something like the Port Wipeout IPA, this is exactly the route I’d take. Same goes for De Proef if they wanted to add a San Diego IPA vibe to one of their Belgian Strong Dark Ales. In the end, everything worked well together and I was given exactly what I wanted – Complexity.
RATING: 3.5 Hops