We've done a couple of collaboration brews at this point in our short life. About 2 years ago we had Wayne from Cigar City Brewing out at our place to create what eventually became Marron Acidifié and earlier this year we had Sean Lawson of Lawson's Finest Liquids out here to work on Acer Quercus with us. Both of these beers were very exciting to make as it's extremely fun to be challenged with ideas from a brewer that we don't typically work with. As with many things in life, we sometimes need a change in the way that we do things in order to bring back a little more heat to our fire, and getting to collaborate with other great brewers really helps the creative process in this way.
When Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head brewing asked us about doing a collaboration with him, there was no hesitation. Sam is not only one of the biggest names in the craft brewing industry, but his passion for styles beyond the norm are very similar, yet totally different from what we do here at The Bruery. We knew it would be a fun process.
A number of phone calls were made between Sam and Patrick and some of the other folks at our respective breweries. We each came to the table with several ideas for beers that we thought were out of the box enough to be what someone would expect when our two breweries combined forces, yet still sounded tasty. The list of ingredient ideas being traded back and forth over the telephone lines between California and Delaware was enough to make any TSA official who may have been listening in become a bit suspicious.
When it all came down to the final few ideas, the answer became quite clear. A Japanese inspired beer that we could brew with a laundry list of herbs, spices and fruits lending themselves to the citrus, spicy and umami flavors often associated with the profound subtlety of Japanese cuisine. Plus, we could donate a portion of the proceeds to the brewers and breweries in Japan who were suffering from the large Earthquake that recently hit their northern shores.
Sam planned his trip out west to coincide with the National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego and arrived at our brewery straight off of a plane from Philly Beer Week. He's a busy man.
We were prepared with all of the possible ingredients needed for the recipe that had been discussed. Everything from kumquats to ginger to chili powder to sesame seeds to seaweed. Flaked rice, brown rice syrup and some standard malts. And of course, sake yeast.
Sam came roaring into our brewery with the smile and friendliness that we all came and knew to love from his short-lived television show, "Brew Masters." He asked us questions about every inch of our brewery while being taken on a small tour. He made a point of learning every employee's name and all in all, he was just an amazing guest. You'd think that he had had more than 2 hours sleep the night before...
The rest of the day was simply a pleasure. We began by tasting through some test batch beer that had been brewed previously on our 10 gallon system and mixed in some of the possible spices to get a feeling for what flavor we enjoyed the most. Sam helped Kevin mash in between discussions with Patrick and Tyler about everything from the beer at hand to the bocce ball tournament that we were all participating in that coming weekend. Kumquats were emulsified, random Japanese treats were munched and, of course, several beers were imbibed.
Overall, the day was a big success. We all had a great time coming up with a recipe together and getting to know each other while discussing war stories from the brewing trenches, plus it was probably the most hands on brewing that either Sam or Patrick have done in some time and it's always fun to put your boots back on.
The beer is currently in the final stages of fermentation and hopefully we will be releasing it upon the world soon.