Craft Beer’s Collaborations

We craft beer enthusiasts are quick to side with our favorite breweries and beers. Yes, we enjoy trying new beers when we have the chance, but we often keep our favorites tucked away in the backs of our minds, asking ourselves, “Do I want to take a chance on this one, or do I just want a glass of my favorite porter from XYZ?”

Luckily, craft brewers are always one step ahead of us, and that’s why they routinely, and creatively, collaborate on new brews. This summer in Missoula we’ve been fortunate to see several inter-brewery collaborations come through our shelves. Right now, in fact, you can try the Deschutes/Hair of the Dog Conflux No. 1 (Collage), or the Sierra Nevada/Russian River wild ale (BRUX), or the New Belgium/Lost Abbey Brett Beer.

These efforts of collaboration should be encouraged because not only do they (mostly) bring about good beers, they increase brand awareness for breweries that normally don’t make it into certain states. For instance, in all three collaborations mentioned above, each is with a brewery that doesn’t get distributed in Montana.

Collaborations can take another direction as well, one that showcases how well beer pairs with…well, everything, especially music, which is also an expression of talent and diversity that brings strangers together to enjoy a common experience.

Last year, New Belgium Brewing collaborated with the band Clutch, stemming from a chance encounter, and the result was a dark sour ale aptly named, Clutch. For a beer that represented a “raucous and riotous” band from Maryland and showcased the talents of barrel-aging New Belgium possessed, I thought it was a success in terms of taste and execution.

This year, and a little closer to home, Great Northern Brewing is collaborating with Kyle Hollingsworth (of String Cheese Incident) to create a unique Earl Grey Pale Ale for their summer concert series at Depot Park in Whitefish on August 4-5.

Great Northern Brewing prepared the following video discussing the collaboration with Hollingsworth, who is an avid homebrewer:

So I leave you with this: beer can be a rich shared experience among friends, among family, and among strangers. From a pint on the porch of your favorite brewpub to an evening tasting party with your buddies, beer is meant to a collaboration of all sorts. If it’s anything else, you’re probably doing it wrong.