Friday, May 7, 2010

The Session #39, Collaborations

For this episode of The Session, Mario Rubio over at The Hop Press, asked about Collaboration beers and said for us:
Feel free to have fun with the topic. Drink a collaborative beer. Who’s brewed some of your favorite collaborations? Who have been some of your favorite collaborators? Who would you like to see in a future collaboration?
This is one area that I struggle with.  I can only think of a couple collaborations that stick out in my head.  Maybe I shy away from them, or just don't think much of it when I drink them.  Are all Mikkeller beers considered collaborations?  What about the Rogue John-John, a collaboration between brewer and distiller?  Can a food and beer pairing be a collaboration?  Who knows.

I will talk about beer and a tri-collaboration that I realized this year was delicious and want to try again next year.  Stone (the master collaborator), Jolly Pumpkin and Nogne O have been having a collaborative effort for a Special Holiday Ale for the past two years.  I have just grabbed my first this year, and am looking to find last year's.  The beer uses ingredients from all three brewers, and each brewer takes a turn producing a beer.

This is what I posted on that beer-experience:
The three brewers are taking turns brewing this beer. 
This is the second release of Special Holiday Ale, which was first brewed in San Diego in 2008.  Each brew is following the same recipe, including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from southern California and Norwegian juniper berries, but differences in brewing and aging practices produce different beers.  Cheers to being different! Ska!
The beer pours a deep mahogany, small head that disappears quickly.  The smell is dominated by the sage and juniper, but I could smell a hint of the chestnuts.  On the first sip, I could get the sage (the minty taste was first thing I noticed) and juniper upfront, and the chestnuts came about as the beer warmed a bit.  The malt is hidden by the spices, but is still present (I was tasting a sweetness that I figured was from the malt).  The alcohol is also well hidden, as I expected more from a 8.5% beer.

The Special Holiday Ale was silky smooth in my mouth.  It is a little thinker than I would like, but very very smooth.  I would love to have this beer again, it was a spice bomb, yet very drinkable.
This beer really opened my eyes to something that I will look forward to.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and sometimes still get the taste in my mouth.  Unlike other more heralded collaborations- specifically Life and Limb/Limb and Life- this beer had no external expectations to live up to.  And what came out of it was a very memorable experience.  I am not saying that Life and Limb wasn't a very good beer- it was.  But the crazyness over the beer was much more than the taste of the beer.  

For me, I am looking for a good beer.  If it is a collaboration, I think the benefit is that you are able to taste something from a brewery that it wouldn't normally brew, a style that it doesn't specialize in or sometimes something crazy.  I cannot wait for the next collaboration, just as I cannot wait for the next new beer from any other brewery.  I like to see experimentation, the good and the bad. 

1 comment:

  1. Anything from Jolly Pumpkin, whether as a collaboration or just their own, are certainly worth picking up and savoring.