At this point, collaborative brewing is a fixture in the industry. In fact, I would wager the rarest piece of Blue Steel on the assertion that collaboration beers have become so de rigueur in recent years, if Mugatu were to deem a brewery “so hot right now” that beer maker would have released at least one in the last six months. (And if not, they should be sent directly to the Derek Zoolander Center For Breweries That Can’t Collaborate Good and That Wanna Learn To Do Other Beer Stuff Good Too.)**
One of Mugatu’s hotties would likely be Keg & Lantern‘s namesake brewery, which makes a broad range of beers from the basement of the Greenpoint bar (including past collaborations with Sunset Park’s Lineup Brewing and Gun Hill in the Bronx), and which recently decided to team with BeerMenus, a popular beer-menu website based in DUMBO, for its latest joint effort. It’s a pale ale called “Integrity is Rare” and the release party (with free pizza!) for this new collaboration will be held tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Beer Karma, a new bar and beer store in Williamsburg with an impressive selection that we’ll revisit next week in another post.
The name “may or may not be a shot at the constant stream of buyouts, sellouts and journalistic integrity issues that we as an industry face,” said Will Stephens, BeerMenus’ founder, no doubt referring in part to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s latest and perhaps most surprising acquisition of Asheville, North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing. The move sent shockwaves through the industry.
Adding insight to the inspiration behind “Integrity is Rare,” Brett Taylor, Keg & Lantern’s head brewer said “Everyone who made this beer makes it a point to have fun doing what we love, and the craft of it comes before profit margins. No compromises.”
The two sides found recipe inspiration in one of Stephen’s favorite beers, Bissell Brothers’ Lux, which the Maine brewery describes as a “tropical rye pale ale.” They used rye malt to help impart a mild spiciness to their interpretation, hopped it only in the whirlpool and dry-hopped it with Mosaic and Motueka (for intensified fruit-forward aromatics and less perceived bitterness) and fermented it with a kölsch yeast to enhance crispness and drinkability.
With global conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev not only purchasing craft breweries but also making investments in areas like hop farms and digital media, lovers of independent beer have grown increasingly leery of Big Beer’s widening footprint, making a celebratory beverage like Integrity is Rare that much more felicitous.
Now it would be very remiss of me to write about brewing collaboratively without mentioning Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, who has been doing it since the late 1990s. (He told me about it, quite appropriately, when we time-traveled together last New Year’s Eve in a bottle of Bel Air Sour.) He’s worked on unique beers not only with brewers as far as Germany (Schneider-Weisse), England (J.W. Lees) and Japan (Kiuchi)—not to mention Brooklyn’s joint-venture brewery partnerships in Sweden, Norway and Korea—but with non-beer-producing entities like chefs, winemakers, coffee roasters and mixologists. While collaborations are still, for the most part, between two or more breweries—Bart Watson, the chief economist of the Brewers Association, has said these acts of camaraderie “don’t happen on this level in any other alcoholic beverage” category—in recent years we’ve seen ones involving even musicians, TV shows, clothiers and other cultural influencers (like me!).
Over the past few months, we’ve covered instances of both kinds involving Brooklyn breweries. In April, Other Half in Carroll Gardens and the U.K.’s Cloudwater combined to create an imperial IPA, called Imaginary Dreamscapes. (Don’t sleep: Other Half partners with many of the world’s hop specialists to make some of its seemingly infinite interpretations of the hazy, juicy New England-style IPA in pounder cans, craft beer’s Cronut and perhaps the most collaborated-on beer style today. Tomorrow, you can catch the latest Cronut, Drop A Gem, baked with Queens’ LIC Beer Project.) And late last month, Red Hook’s Sixpoint teamed with the Happy Hour Guys and the hit Broadway musical “Waitress” on It’s For Adrienne, a cherry-pie-inspired cream ale.