Saturday, July 20, 2013


The beer market can be pretty competitive.  With over 2,300 breweries across the country, craft brewers are doing all they can to gain market share as more of them start up each year. There are only so many spaces on the shelf, and only so many taps at the bar. Yet, even with all of the competition that's out there, you still see craft brewers coming together to support one another.

Working together rather than working against each other is essential for craft brewers, as they are still only a small percentage of the overall beer market. Today it's more important than ever that they stick together so that the craft beer market can continue to grow. Friendly competition is a good thing, but there is also the risk of becoming divided. That's where beer collaborations come in.

One of the first collaboration beers I had was Rhizing Bines from Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. Sierra Nevada has also collaborated with Boulevard  to create a brew called Terra Incognita, a blend of different beers that is actually the second in a trilogy of Boulevard-Sierra Nevada beers. Seeing some of the larger American craft breweries collaborating has given me hope that more collaborations will come about in the future.
The bigger craft brewers can have a large impact on the craft beer market as a whole. I remember when I learned about Samuel Adams' hop sharing program, which led to the creation of Salute by Backlash (which appropriately features the brewer saluting Sam Adams). It's these kind of positive relationships between brewers and the support they give one another that I believe will lead to even greater growth in the craft beer industry.
Collaborations are kind of a new thing. You didn't really see them a few years ago, but now you're seeing them more and more. In Massachusetts, the ONCEMADE project set up by Pintley is aimed at bringing brewers together to try something new. The first release was a partnership between Backlash and Night Shift featuring two wild saisons, Wild King and Wild Queen. Two unforgettable beers!
What makes this collaboration even more memorable is the way that it's presented. Two separate bottles packaged together in an elegant pinewood box along with a letter signed by the brewers and a piece of the barrel that the beers were aged in. It makes you realize that this wasn't just a casual fling for the two brewers to make a profit. It was a truly meaningful partnership that resulted in something remarkable.
Other Massachusetts brewers have collaborated as well. Clown Shoes and Brash, two in-your-face brewers that brew their beer out of the same brewery in Ipswich, blended their brown ales to create a big beer known as Pimp. It just goes to show you that two brewers known for the humor can come together to create an even more hilarious beer than they could alone.
I'm sure other brewers are collaborating across the country, and I hope to see more of these kinds of things in the future. Beer should connect people, not set them apart. That's why collaborations are a great thing not only for brewers, but also for the people that drink their beer. We want to see our favorite breweries come together. It brings us closer, and it's a sign that the craft beer industry will continue to thrive.

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