what’s in a collaboration?
On the heels of the release of three-way collaboration beer Blakkr, created by Surly, Real Ale and Three Floyds, I’ve spent some time thinking about collaboration beers.
I’ve always been interested in beers created between breweries – the delicate balance of a shared product, potentially conflicting ideas, shared profits – because the concept seems difficult to navigate.
As more and more breweries are teaming up to combine and conquer, the role of collaboration beer is growing.
What do collaboration brews do for the industry and what do consumers gain from having collaboration beer choices in the market?
Some team-ups are obvious, almost expected such as the noir-loving, heavy-metal-headed Blakkr collaboration. The brewers at Three Floyds, Surly, and Real Ale are like kindred spirits creating a extreme Imperial Black Ale to appeal to the masses, music preferences aside.
I attended the can release here in Minneapolis, and there was something unifying about knowing that Texas and Chicago would be enjoying Blakkr as well.
Collaboration beers offer brewers (and drinkers) of similar persuasions an opportunity to team up and create something synergistic and powerful.
image: Quality Liquor Store
On the other hand, some collaborations are more unexpected, such as the Belgian Coast IPA from St Feuillien and Green Flash, a beer that has been consistently available since its release in October of last year. “Green Flash brewer Chuck Silva made the journey to Belgium to brew Belgian Coast IPA with St. Feuillien’s Alexis Briol. They collaborated on the recipe and the labeling.” – Artisanal Imports
Green Flash, which specializes in general hoppiness, and St Feuillien, which has been brewing Belgian beer since 1873, each offered their expertise to create a very well-received beer with elements of fragrant hops and classic Belgian yeast.
A collaboration in this case is symbiotic, with both parties offering equal parts and making equal gains.
The Belgian Coast IPA also represents another benefit of collaboration beers – increased geography of distribution. In fact, this was the fist Green Flash beer I ever tried because St. Feuillien distributed to the Midwest long before Green Flash did.
The same idea is true for the beer created by Dogfish Head and Birra del Borgo, called My Antonia. A hoppy imperial pilsner, the beer is unique in its own right, but its also unique as a beer from Italy in collaboration with one of the most popular American breweries.
Dogfish Head does not distribute to Minnesota, so in the Twin Cities we actually get this beer from Italy.
There are many collaboration beers out on the market that occupy a different niche or offer an valuable experience. More to come on the subject, and I’d love to hear about your favorite collaborations!