All for one and beer for all

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First Posted: 8/12/2013

Collaborations have long been a part of popular culture, whether in music when Anthrax and Public Enemy collaborated to produce the song “Bring the Noise” and thus create a new genre of music; when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak collaborated to create Apple; or with the advent of Wikipedia where we all collaborate to create a mass of information. (Just don’t use it as a reference for any term papers in college.)

The results can be mixed at times, but the general consensus is still that two heads are better than one. So, in a craft beer market that currently holds 2,538 breweries, it should be no surprise that many collaborate with one another rather than simply try to compete for market share.

You may have noticed some great collaboration beers on the shelves at your favorite craft beer supplier or bar. Many are just what you would think: beers that were created by two or more breweries, typically owners and/or head brewers, exchanging ideas and coming together to agree on a solid recipe for a beer. There are many examples of these on the market. There’s the fabulous IPA created by Smuttynose Brewing and Stone Brewing called Cluster’s Last Stand; only 1,044 bottles were produced, so if you find this gem grab a bottle.

There is also Rhizing Bines, which was the result of a wonderful collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. Rhizing Bines is an imperial IPA that undertook two different hopping methods. The collaboration also led to the development of the IPA glass. There are endless examples of these types of collaborations, whether it’s Russian River and Avery Brewing, New Belgium Brewing and Elysian, or Allagash and Bell’s Brewing.

Another popular collaboration is between breweries and homebrewers. Many of your favorite breweries have produced beers based upon recipes from award winning homebrewers. Examples of this are found in Stone Brewing’s Dayman Coffee IPA, which was released this past spring. An even more widely available example of this is with Sam Adams. Every year the Boston Brewing Company holds its longshot competition where homebrewers can submit beers and the winners of the contest get to produce their beer using the equipment at the brewery and have their beer bottled in 6-packs and shipped throughout the country. This year’s winning 6-packs featured a splendid imperial IPA called Magnificent Seven, along with a strawberry lager and wheat beer.

There is a new style of collaboration that has begun to hit the markets now though, those between Hollywood and breweries. The first big example we saw of such collaboration was with the Game of Thrones beer entitled Golden Throne, released by Brewery Ommegang this past spring. A new one named Take the Black Stout is set to be released this fall. Also under this category is Stone’s Woot Stout, a collaboration with everyone’s favorite nerd Wil Wheaton.

Collaborations can create something wonderful that ultimately leads to something not so great: see Anthrax/Public Enemy lead to Limp Bizkit. However, among the craft beer family, collaborations are created to innovate and make great beer better, a win-win situation.