Snapshot – Collaboration
COLLABORATION + COOPERATION = CRAFT BEER CREATIVITY
Collaborative beers are certain to be brewed for—and during—SF Beer Week, as brewers converge on the Bay Area and use the occasion to renew collegial ties.
One of the most eagerly awaited releases is the annual San Francisco Brewers Guild collaboration beer, first tapped at the SF Beer Week Opening Gala (Feb. 10), then at events hosted across the region from Feb. 11-19. This special brew unites members of the Guild to craft something unique; past brews have varied dramatically.
One year, the brewers recreated Green Death, a local slang for a malt liquor formerly manufactured in the City, with their craft adaption featuring improved ingredients, techniques and flavor.
Last year, in an homage to the Super Bowl’s SF arrival, two Guild ‘teams’ were formed and two collaboration beers produced. Ingredients, donated by Whole Foods Market, featured yuzu zest and sea salt for one brew; chicory and single-sourced coffee for the other. Finding this one-time-only brew at a grocer who pioneered draft taps in its stores seemed fitting, as did sampling them at craft beer outlets ranging from the eclectic Toronado, City Beer Store and Beer Revolution to the more formal The Monk’s Kettle, Belga and Sessions at the Presidio.
Those specialty ingredients reflect another innovation trend: experimenting with culinary ingredients in the brewing process. As with the resulting Guild collaborations—a citrusy, slightly saline saison and a roasty chicory coffee porter—the results are a rainbow of flavors that craft beer’s California cousin, wine, can’t come close to. [ See SF Beer Week Media Snapshot: Beer & Food ]
Just as brewers are innovating locally, much of the overall modern brewing community shares these passions for experimentation and collaboration. Even in the face of growing competition, brewers continue to cooperate and brew together. And their combined creativity is off the charts! From recent years:
- Marin Brewing Co.’s Arne Johnson teamed up with Cosimo Sorrentino of San Diego’s Monkey Paw Brewing Co. to create a Squid Ink Gose, a tart beer infused with actual squid ink so that it looked like a roasty stout while tasting entirely different—tart and refreshing, evoking umami and lemon.
- Tree Beer, an IPA collaboration between Drake’s Brewing Co. in San Leandro and Faction Brewing Co. in Alameda, featured freshly harvested fir branches tossed into the fermenter to impart a Christmas tree aroma.
- Last SF Beer Week, two new SF breweries—Old Bus Tavern and Harmonic Brewing Co.—joined forces to make a well-received rye lager together as a way to introduce the two newcomers to the scene at the same time.
- Woods Beer Co. has partnered with a local SF food shop to design a salted caramel beer that dryly reflects the flavors of the wildly popular BiRite salted caramel ice cream. The beer was served along side its inspiration, of course.
As you can see, collaborations can reach beyond brewer-to-brewer and encompass projects between brewers and bakers, chefs, elite beer retailers and talented home brewers.