The Session #39 is being hosted by Mario Rubio at The Hop Press and the topic is Collaborations. The instructions for this Session were as follows:
Drink a collaborative beer. Who’s brewed some of your favorite collaborations? Who have been some of your favorite collaborators? Who would you like to see in a future collaboration? As the topic is collaborations, working with each other is encouraged.
Although I haven’t participated in the Session for a few months now, I couldn’t miss participating in this topic. Even though I’ve been a craft beer drinker for a number of years and I’ve been operating this blog for a year and a half, I can only recall one collaboration beer that I’ve tried. I was the SF Brewer’s Guild Imperial Common, which was available during SF Beer Week 2010. Although, the Imperial Common was a wonderful beer and a very appropriate style. In preparation for this topic, since I could not fill an entire article about one beer, I picked up a number of collaboration beers with plans to review each one before today. I picked up:
- Mikkeller-BrewDog Devine Rebel
- Sierra Nevada (with Anchor Brewing) 30th Anniversary Stout
- BrewDog-Cambridge-Stone Juxtaposition Black Pilsner
- 21st Amendment-Firestone Walker-Stone El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale
- Nøgne Ø-Jolly Pumpkin-Stone Special Holiday Ale
- Nøgne Ø-Gahr Smith-Gahrsen Andrímnir Barley Wine Ale
The 21A-Firestone-Stone collaboration was especially difficult to track down but thanks to @wesleybeero, I got the last bottle from the Potrero Hill Whole Foods. I was all set last Saturday to crack open one of these bottles when I came down with a cold that just wouldn’t quit, all week long. So I’ll eventually get around to reviewing each of these beers and when I do, I’ll update the above list with links to each review. I did, however, crack open the Mikkeller-BrewDog last Wednesday and you can read the review of Devine Rebel here.
Since I’m not able to go over each collaboration beer, I’ll discuss the topic of collaboration beers in general.
In general, collaborations are a great way for beer makers to get together with different points of view and create something that either may not have made on their own. Getting together for a collaboration also might just be an excuse to make something completely wacky but why not if the resulting product turns out well?
Collaborations are also a great way to promote homebrewing and an awesome prize for homebrewers. The bottle of Nøgne Ø Andrímnir Barley Wine Ale was actually brewed by the winner of a homebrew competition at the Nøgne Ø brewery. More well known is the Sam Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest, where, again, the winners of the competition get to brew their winning beer at Sam Adams to be later sold in stores. There is even a category of the Great American Beer Festival specifically for this type of collaboration, Pro-Am. Finally, some even local breweries have regulars that have a good relationship with the owner or head brewr to the point where they are invited to collaborate and brew in the brewery. Since I never-ever-ever plan on owning my own brewery, this type of homebrewer-professional collaboration is very appealing given that this would be the only way I could ever brew “like a pro” and collaborate with a brewery.
And then there are collaborators that are in a unique category of there own like Mikkeller. Mikkeller isn’t a traditional brewery, it’s Danish brewer, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, who goes around Europe and the United States brewing and collaborating at other breweries to produce a very unique line of beer.
It’s also a great marketing vehicle from a few perspectives. First, it gets out the name of several breweries for one release. You may have heard of Stone Brewing of San Deigo but maybe not Nøgne Ø of Denmark. Next, these collaborations are usually able to brew something a little out of the ordinary (even more so than usual) and still manage to sell the product. By having a limited release breweries can use word-of-mouth marketing and a necessarily scarce product to produce demand that well exceeds supply. In most cases this does not result in higher prices but some stores do take advantage of the “uniqueness” of the beer to hike the rates. This starts to bring us to the dark side of collaborations and special release beer in general. Certain beer becomes so rare that collectors must grab up every bottle they can find at the determent of the beer community at large. During SF Beer Week somebody sent me a picture of some douchebag who posted a picture boasting how much Pliny the Younger he hoarded. Limited edition beers can also lead you on a journey (annoying or enlightening) to new beer stores to find what you’re looking for.
How do you feel about collaboration beer?