TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

“Plays Well With Others” -Beerford’s Pre-School Teacher

I was merrily shopping away at my local bottle shop when I ran across a new collaboration brew that excited me to an embarrassing level. Turns out that Stone Brewing, Elysian Brewing and The Bruery have collectively created a beer together called La Citrueille Céleste de Citracado. I actually haven’t consumed it yet (I’m saving it for something special), but this beer reminded me that collaboration really seems to be all the rage these days. Though I’m pretty psyched to see these breweries working together, I think we can do better. So, fellow Aleheads, let’s see if we can improve on this near-perfection: Tell us what two breweries would you like to see create a collaboration together? Further, please describe (and, of course, name) the beer you would like to see them create.

No further rules. Go get it.

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BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS

Ah, a fine conundrum which asks us to look at one of the greatest trends in craft brewing today…the collaboration beer. What better way to represent the camaraderie and mutual respect inherent in the craft world than to come together as brewers to do what you do best?

For my response, I’m taking two of my favorite breweries that also happen to be masters of two diametrically opposed beer styles. I’m asking the brewmasters at Founders, makers of the best-in-class Dirty Bastard, to take their Scotch Ale wizardery out West to brew a collaboration with Lagunitas, the unparalleled lords of the hop vine (as represented by their Hop Stoopid and Maximus). By synthesizing the malty goodness of a Founders Scotch Ale with the bracing bitterness of a Lagunitas DIPA, I’m expecting sheer greatness…an Imperial Scottish Ale with the smoky, sweet backbone of a Scotch Ale and the massive, face-smacking hoppiness of an Imperial IPA. The name? The HopScotch.

Of course.

Did you know The Commander has “Pounder” tattooed on both of his buttocks?  It’s backward on the right one.

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SLOUCH SIXPACK

Black IPA’s. Imperial Red Ales. Beers that sport a substantial malt bill and a flavorful hop profile. I love these styles, but isn’t there something in between?

There is! A heavily-hopped brown ale. Apparently it’s called a Texas Brown Ale. I’m happy to credit a style to the Lone Star State. It’s much cooler than calling it an India Brown or some such thing.

Brewers are starting to take notice. Fatheads in Pittsburgh (brewers of the reknowned and award-winning Head Hunter IPA) decided to recreate it, with great success. A collaboration with the famous Port Brewing of San Diego is in the works, as I’m told.

For my ideal collaboration, I’d like to see Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing (of Black Kolsch fame) collaborate with the cheeky upstart Jester King, who challenged the antiquated TABC over consumer freedom. Let’s make a flavorful Brown Ale that sings the song of the south, with potent hops. I suggest Citra, but I’m no brewer.

Imperialize it, double the hop bill, and call it TABC Suck Texas Brown Ale

You can thank me later.

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MASHTUN COPPERPOT

Bear Republic and Ommegang. “Sour sun-ryes”

More to come.

Beerford’s Note: Mashtun got distracted, so there was no more to come.  But that sounds like a pretty cool collaboration, so I invite you all to imagine how kick ass it would have been if Mashtun got around to describing it. 

He doesn’t discriminate. Hard pounding, rough, angry, it’s all good.

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HERR HORDEUM

Well, for me the most important part of a new hypothetical collaboration is access. Which means one brewery involved would have to be Boulevard, since it is one of the few places I can count on getting all of their releases. Boulevard also has a done some cool collaborations in the past, which is a good start.

While Boulevard has a fairly strong beer portfolio, including some creative selections like a 10% ABV Belgian Imperial Stout and a Brett Saison, they don’t make any of these fancy sour beers that are so popular these days. Thus, the second partner should be a brewery with a well developed sour program.

New Belgium sounds like a reasonable partner. They have a lot of collaboration brews, have a great sour program, and are just down the road in Colorado. Now the name of the beer. It seems like a lot of these collaboration brews get esoteric names, so I’ll grab my Thesaurus. Never-mind, I’ll just use a pun. Boulevard/New Belgium Collaboration #3: The-sour-us. I acutaly don’t even care what it is, since none of the stores here carry sours I’ve only had a couple. It will be big and delicious.

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DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE

I sure do love collaborations. Brotherhood, camaraderie, the sharing of ideas and passions that result in delicious brew. I get all tingly just thinking of the brainstorming that goes into the planning stages of said superbeer. Lovely. I do sometimes wonder though. What would happen if some unlikely foes got together to plan a beer.

Would one brewer win out over the other? Would one stylistic approach dominate? For example, I wonder what would happen if Oskar Blues and Gordon Biersche were forced to create a beer together. They could of course call the beer Gordon, but would it be stylistically awesome like everything Oskar Blues has ever produced (Including their Gordon, now known as G’Knight) or would it be absurdly boring and mundane like everything Gordon Biersche has ever concocted in their boardroom. Maybe you make Anheuser Busch create a beer with Budweiser Budvar. Would they just create a Pilsner that somehow resembles one of the “Bud’s”? Would they eat the rice or would they brew with it? I just don’t know. Maybe it would just end up in a bare-knuckle battle royale with bloodshed a plenty. That would be cool.

So here’s my collaboration and it’s one that I think will benefit both brewers. OK, I guess it will just benefit one brewer but it will be hilarious for all of us. I want Notch Brewing, known for their approachable session beers, to team up with Dogfish Head, known for the exact opposite of what I just wrote about Notch. I shit on Dogfish Head all the time but it’s usually while I have a glass of Burton Baton in my hand. For every absurdly over-sugared, over complicated brew like Black and Blue and Fort, Dogifish still puts out some amazing brews (Go ahead and argue all you want, you’ll just be wrong). They really just need to look at Notch Brewing to understand that you don’t need to dump everything into the kettle to produce something tasty and appealing to a mass market. Notch Brewing likes local ingredients and a light malt bill, Dogfish likes extravagant ingredients and booze upon booze upon a little more booze (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not all the time). Here’s what I want. An ingredient list from Notch that uses local barley, locally sourced spring water, and hops grown on premise. Maybe a 4.5% ABV Brown Ale, served on cask wherever they can mangage. Then I want Dogfish to make a shit-ton of it in their ample brewing space and ship it all over the country, forcing their way into every bar and installing new hand pumps along the way. Yes, it’s a weird collaboration, but this is what I want. Oh, the name? I don’t know, how about Restraint? That’s restraint in brewing of course, not in marketing and expansion. I am a capitalist after all.

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KID CARBOY JR.

Port Brewing. Stone Brewing. Two of the most hop-forward breweries on Earth. Give each one a bin full of the same ingredients, with instructions to “make an IPA.” Give them a bunch of different choices of hops in the bin. Each brewery produces their own IPA. Then, the head brewers of each meet and hash out the recipe for a third beer using the same ingredients. All three varieties are available to consumers at the two brewpubs, and fans can vote on an overall contest about which is best: Stone, Port, or the collaboration?

I call it: “Two Hops are Better than One.”

I kind of want to talk to him about all the pounding, but I’m a little nervous about how that conversation might go. 

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SMILEY BROWN

I’ve grown disillusioned with collaborations. The promise of two great outfits coming together, pushing themselves and each other to a higher level in order to produce something bold and exciting — it just doesn’t happen. Maybe folks would rather keep their best stuff to themselves, or maybe true greatness just depends on singularity of vision. But whatever the reason, these multiple brewery collaborations never live up to their potential. Instead, you either get something more interesting than good (The Bruery/Dogfish Head Faster, Bigger, Better, Bolder) or something more good than interesting (BrewDog/Three Floyds Bitch Please*).

*Which is not to say that this one was dull, it just didn’t push the horizon as much as I’d hoped when I first heard about BrewDog and Three Floyds teaming up to create a Scottish barleywine.

On the other hand, one of the best beers I’ve had all year was a different sort of collaboration at one of my favorite spots, Track 84. One night this past September, they tapped a one-off cask of Mayflower Pale Ale designed by the bar’s owner, dry-hopped with 100% Amarillo hops. Deliciously smooth, crisply balanced and refreshing like iced tea, it’s not something I would’ve expected to like as much as I did, but I’ve been craving another round ever since.

So rather than pair two breweries together only to watch them disappoint, I’d rather see a collaboration between one of my favorite breweries and an outstanding bar where I first learned to appreciate craft beer: Russian River and The Toronado. Of course, I’m several years too late with this one, since back in 2007 Russian River crafted Toronado 20th Anniversary Ale, a sour ale/wild ale in honor of the bar’s platinum anniversary.* It apparently still shows up on tap from time to time, but since I no longer live in San Francisco, my trips to the Toronado are far less frequent and I’ve never managed to catch it. (Not that a visit to the Toronado is ever not worth it.)

*Lagunitas XX Birthday, also brewed for the 20th anniversary party, would have been a co-answer to this conundrum, but since Barley already picked Lagunitas, Russian River’s offering wins the tiebreaker.

Wait, I thought we were taking this seriously, are we just doing puns? Then let’s go with an imperial red from AleSmith, known for such reds as My Bloody Valentine and YuleSmith (Winter) (considered by some around these parts to be the best imperial red, even if the style technically doesn’t exist), filtered through the Belgian-inspired prism of Allagash, to create: My Bloody (Alla)Gash. Named after Kid Carboy, of course.

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BEERFORD MCBREWIN’

My collaboration is going to be a bit more esoteric, but bear with me for a moment.  Our dear Professor is a homebrewer of some note*, and is arguably the most personable of all the Aleheads.  On the other hand Slouch is a fairly recent initiate into the fine art of homebrewing, and his general disgruntlement** knows no bounds.  As such, I would love to see an in-person homebrew collaboration happen between the two of them not because I think it would necessarily be a beer of particular note, but rather because I would really really love to hide a webcam in the corner of that kitchen and secretly webcast it.  I guarantee that would be some amazing organic comedy, particularly as the two of them got more and more tipsy as the drinking and brewing went on.  Assuming this beer actually came to fruition, and assuming both of them survived the experience (unlikely), I would recommend that it be named Holy Crap That Was the Best Thing to Ever Happen To the Internet Ale.
Space
*Read “of some note” as “he talks about it like he knows what he’s saying.” 
Space
**Read “general disgruntlement” as “soul-puckering bitterness.”
 
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4 comments

  1. Jimmy Hoppa · · Reply

    I actually have a growler of the Citrueille Céleste de Citracado waiting for me at home that I picked up at Stone this past weekend. Don’t tell my liver though, it’s a surprise!

  2. East End and Lavery Brewing- a saison porter….with brett!

  3. Kid Carboy Jr. · · Reply

    Let’s get serious, people. More talk about beer and less talk about my bloody gash.

  4. I’d like to see that Lavery/ East End mashup as well. It needs to happen. Let’s make it so, Jason.

    As for the Professor and I homebrewing together, just watch the first season of Breaking Bad and substitute the meth with beer. You’ll have a good idea how that would turn out.

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