Life and Limb. Collaborative Evil. Mutinous Battle Chai. Collaboration, Not Litigation! Sound familiar? If you’re a fan of collaboration beers, then you’ve most likely heard of at least one, if not all four. And, if you haven’t tasted a collaboration beer yet, you should head over to your closest better-beer store and find one to crack open while you learn what collaboration is all about.
Collaboration beers are born when two or more brewers from different breweries come together in some form or fashion and create a tasty brew. This “coming together” can happen when one brewery creates a beer with another brewery, when two or more brewers each make a batch from the same recipe but with their own flare, or even when a homebrewer is invited to brew some suds with a professional brewer. One well-known example of this is the Pro-Am Competition at the Great American Beer Festival. These beers are sought out, often limited releases and usually of the highest quality since both brewers aim to impress the other and deliver their best. It’s like when two Hollywood stars start dating—the union heightens the profile of both parties and get’s everyone talking!
Why bother collaborating? Perhaps Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado) and Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, California) can shed some light on this. Apparently, both breweries have beers called “Salvation.” Adam Avery and Vinnie Cilurzo met up to discuss their predicament. Lucky for them, and even luckier for us, they decided to blend their two beers together rather than fighting it out in court. And so, Collaboration, Not Litigation! was born.
Collaboration beers demonstrate true artistic flair and camaraderie. After all, craft brewing is about being creative, forming relationships and helping one another versus trying to pull the other down. And, while every brewery strives to make the best beer, they appreciate and enjoy their fellow breweries’ beers. Collaboration beers are living evidence of this phenomenon.
Collaboration beers have built bridges that span across oceans—many U.S. breweries are collaborating with breweries overseas. In fact, Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, New York), and possibly the beer-collaboration trend-setter, reached out overseas in the late 1990s when he visited Brakspear Brewing Company in Henley-on-Thames, England and brewed Brooklyn Bridge Bitter. Today, both regional and micro craft breweries in the U.S. and abroad are teaming up to create handfuls of beers with each other. Collaboration between European breweries that have existed far longer than most U.S. breweries, and the creative craft brewers of the U.S., not only shows the excitement brewers have for the art of beer, but also for forming friendships and sharing brewing techniques. When Green Flash Brewing Company based in San Diego, California and Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium came together and created their Biere de L’Amitie Collaboration Ale, which means “Friendship Brew,” they demonstrated how craft beer is an important medium for building relationships, creating memories and sharing knowledge.
Dogfish Head Brewing Company (Milton, Deleware) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s (Chico, California) Life & Limb pays tribute to these crafty brewers, and you’re cheers-ing along with them when you choose a collaboration beer.
“Life & Limb is dedicated to the family of beer drinkers and enthusiasts worldwide who continue to support the little guys, iconoclasts, entrepreneurs, and pioneers who risk life and limb to shape the vibrant craft-brewing community.”
Keep that in mind the next time you crack open a deliciously hand-crafted collaboration beer. Cheers!
A Few Collaboration Beers
Collaboration, Not Litigation! Avery Brewing Co. & Russian River Brewing Co.
Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse and Brooklyner & Schneider Hopfen-Weisse Brooklyn Brewing Co. & Schneider Weisse Brewery
Flying Dog Wild Dog Collaboration Doppelbock Flying Dog Brewery & Open Source Beer Project
Collaborative Evil FiftyFifty Brewing Co. & Flossmoor Station Brewing Co. & Lucky Bucket Brewing
Ommegang Rouge Ommegang Brewing Co. & Bockor Brewing Co.
C1- Oak-Aged Smoked Rye Pale Ale New Albanian Brewing Co., Schlafly Brewing Co. & O’Fallon Brewery
Bashah- Black Double Belgian IPA Stone Brewing Co. & BrewDog
Biere de L’Amitie Collaboration Ale Green Flash Brewing Co. & Brasserie St. Feuillien
Either, Or, Neither, & Nor Cigar City Brewing Co., The Grassroots Brewery at Fanoe Brewery & Hill Farmstead Brewery
Brew Ridge Collaboration Ale Blue Mountain Brewery, South Street Brewery, Starr Hill Brewery & Devils Backbone Brewing Co.
Alt Together Now District Chophouse & Brewery, Capitol City Brewing Co. & Gordon Biersch
Wild Brew 2010 Collaboration Ale Choc Beer Co. & Marshall Brewing Co.
Collaboration No. 1- Imperial Pilsner Boulevard Brewing Co. & Orval Brewing
Mutinous Battle Chai: Mutineer Magazine’s Collaboration Series with New Holland Brewing Co.
Vrienden East & Vrienden West Allagash Brewing Co. & New Belgium Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary Series
Fritz & Ken’s Ale- Pioneers Stout
Charlie, Fred & Ken’s Bock- Imperial Helles Lager
Jack & Ken’s Ale
Left Hand Brewing Co. & Terrapin Beer Co. Midnight Project Series
Ohio Craft Brewer’s Association, Cleveland Beer Week Collaboration Beers:
Strong Ale Barrel Aged Great Lakes Brewing Co. & Cellar Rats Brewery
Smoked Black Lager by Thirsty Dog and Indigo Imp
Rye Kolsch The Brew Kettle & Willoughby Brewing
Wet Hopped IPA Fat Heads Brewery & Black Box Brewing Co.
Imperial American Porter Hoppin’ Frog & Rocky River Brewing Co.
Alt Bier Buckeye Brewing Co. & Cornerstone Brewery
De Proef Brouwerij Collaboration Beers
Van Twee made with Bell’s Brewing Co.
Les Deux Brasseurs made with Allagash Brewing Co.
Signature Ale made with noted San Diego brewer Tomme Arthur
Monstre Rouge made with Terrapin Beer Co.
New Belgium Brewing Co. & Elysian Brewing Co. Trip Series
Trip II- Golden ale
Trip III- Sour Brown Ale
Trip IV- Sahti beer (Finnish farmhouse ale with juniper)
Stone Collaboration Series
San Diego County Session Ale Ballast Point Brewing Co., Kelsey McNair & Stone Brewing Co.
Saison du BUFF Dogfish Head, Victory Brewing Co. & Stone Brewing Co.
El Camino (Un) Real Black Ale 21st Amendment Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Co. & Stone Brewing Co.
Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter Ken Schmidt, Maui Brewing Co. & Stone Brewing Co.
Juxtaposition Black Pilsner BrewDog, Cambridge Brewing Co. & Stone Brewing Co.
Special Holiday Ale Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ale, Nogne O & Stone Brewing Co.
Belgian Style Triple Ale AleSmith Brewing, Mikkeller Brewing & Stone Brewing Co.
Please keep in mind this is by no means a complete list of collaboration beers, many more exist. Feel free to share below in the comments about other collaborations from U.S. craft brewers that you discover. Happy hunting!