Over the years the whole beer collaboration thing has become watered down. What started decades ago with breweries combining forces to craft something artful has in too many cases become little more than business tie-ins, advertising and band tour promotions.
But this week we learned of two collaborations featuring prominent breweries that actually got us excited…Brewers working together on projects that reflect the considerable talents of both entities.
It’s a return to what originally made beer collaborations so special…brewers working together to create something different than what they might have done on their own.
Trillium and Firestone Walker’s Switchboard Operator
Trillium’s new collaboration IPA began its journey through primary fermentation in a combination of 500L neutral puncheons and 200L American oak casks.
The special technique comes courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and their modified Burton Union system, which they employ to produce their flagship Double Barrel Ale.
This from Boston-based Trillium…
“We’re equal parts grateful and excited to have worked in collaboration with Barrelworks’ Master Blender, Jim Crooks, to apply this technique to a classic Trillium recipe, with the addition of California-sourced Clairette Blanche grape juice.”
An aromatic bouquet of tropical and citrus fruit, Trillium/Firestone Walker Switchboard Operator is a 9.5% ABV Double IPA with fresh pineapple, orange juice, and passion fruit notes, a creamy mouthfeel, gentle carbonation, and a crisp bitterness that quickly give way to a bright white wine character.
This is the first time that Trillium and Paso Robles, Ca-based Firestone Walker have joined forces. We hope that it won’t be the last.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery & Rodenbach Release Vibrant P’Ocean
Delaware’s nearly 25-year-old Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has embarked on an international collaboration with Belgium’s (almost) 200-year-old Brouwerij Rodenbach, one of the world’s most well-respected maker of sour beers.
Sour and Wild Ales are among the fastest-growing beer styles nowadays but both Dogfish Head and Rodenbach have been producing them long before it was considered ‘cool.’
Dogfish Head’s journey into sours began nearly 17 years ago, when founder Sam Calagione first brewed Festina Lente, an award-winning small-batch, spontaneously-fermented beer brewed with locally-grown peaches. And Rodenbach is renowned around the world for its Grand Cru, a classic Flanders Red Ale with roots that date back to the Middle Ages.
Vibrant P’Ocean origins can be traced back to the Craft Brewers Conference in 2018 where Rodenbach brewmaster Rudi Ghequire shared a seminar panel with Dogfish Head’s Bill Marchi and a partnership was born.
“Our relationship with Dogfish Head blossomed over a few good sour beers and Vibrant P’Ocean captures all that we hoped for in this collaboration,” said Rudi Ghequire. “The result is an innovative and refreshing sour beer that captures Dogfish Head’s history of creativity, while staying true to the Rodenbach brand and its oak-aging process which gives Rodenbach its distinctive character.”
A collaboration 225 years in the making, Vibrant P’Ocean is a 4.7% ABV blende sour with one part coming from the Belgium’s famed Rodenbach Brewery and the other coming from Dogfish Head.
Rodenbach’s portion is a two-year, foeder-aged sour brewed in Belgium and shipped by tanker to the Dogfish Head compound in Milton, Delaware.
Dogfish Head’s part is a kettle sour brewed with pilsner malt, malted wheat, elderberry, elderflower, lemon slices and fleur-de-sel, resulting in one-of-kind collaboration…a light-bodied blended beer with tart, dry flavors.