Collaboration beers are the epitome of the mythic win-win. Two or more brewers share their knowledge, stretch their creative muscles and create a beer that's usually greater than the sum of its parts. And beer lovers are treated to a special, limited edition beer that is usually made just once.Reach Jay R. Brooks at BrooksOnBeer@gmail.com. Read more by Brooks at www.ibabuzz.com/bottomsup/
One of the most recent collaborations was between Sierra Nevada Brewing and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The pair embodies the very notion of opposites. One is West Coast — Chico — while the other is from Delaware. Sierra Nevada is one of the largest craft breweries in the country. Dogfish Head is considerably smaller. And while Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head's owner, has done countless collaboration beers, this is Sierra Nevada's first.
Calagione and Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada's founder, have known one another for several years. They both served on the board of the Brewers Association, a trade organization that works on behalf of smaller breweries. Late one night — over a few beers, naturally — Grossman suggested the two create a beer together, using ingredients from their respective family farms and breweries to make the beer more personally meaningful.
Life and Limb
The beer was dubbed "Life and Limb," a nod to both the interconnections of the craft beer world and to family trees — both Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head are family-owned and run. And while a children's illustrator did a beautiful label evoking those themes, where it really came together was in the beer itself.
A blend of their two house yeasts was used, along with maple syrup from Calagione's father's Massachusetts farm and barley from Sierra Nevada (the same barley used to create their recent Estate Brewers Harvest Ale.) They also used birch syrup in the beer, and they believe this may be the first time it's ever been used in brewing.
The result is a strong, dark beer that defies categorization. It's 10.5 percent alcohol by volume, or a.b.v., and black as a starless night. It's also rich and slightly sweet, from the maple syrup, no doubt. Despite being so strong, it's quite delicate and complex. Its strength is well hidden by that complexity, making it a dangerous beer to quaff. This is a beer made to sip and share.
Available now on draft, beginning this week, 24-oz. bottles of Life and Limb will be available throughout the country, though in very limited quantities.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Jay R. Brooks (Brooks on Beer) had an interesting article on a collaboration of two of my favorite beers: Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Ale: