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Beer Collaboration Part 1: The Big Idea

By May 15, 2014Beer Travel
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Simply put, I was excited. So much so that I couldn’t really sleep that night. With visions of cracked grain and mash tuns dancing in my head I just couldn’t fall asleep. Less than five hours earlier I had learned that Maria and I will be brewing a collaboration beer with our hometown brewery, Free State Brewing, the very next day.
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Earlier in the day we had driven drove the RV over to Free State’s bottling facility to discuss the idea of a brewing a collaboration beer with our friends Geoff, Tommy, and Kevin who were in charge of brewing at the restaurant’s 15 barrel brew house.

I had suggested the idea to Geoff about a month prior only to find out that they had a full schedule of brews already in the mix. It wasn’t until chance encounter at an event in downtown Lawrence that we ran into Geoff when he had a change of heart, “you know what? Let’s do that collaboration. We can make some room for another beer.” A week later the brewers piled into the RV while we poured beers from Stanley’s cellar and discussed flavor profiles that we were interested in.
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“I love anything black…It should probably be a black beer”, was the first thing out of Maria mouth when asked what style of beer we would want to make. We tossed around grain and hop combinations as we cracked jokes and caught up on local happenings while sharing stories from our beer travels. It had been a year since we had been in Lawrence, but as usual it felt like we had never left.

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Left to right: Kevin Prescott, Geoff Deman, Tommy Kelley, and Maria.

After an hour or so we ended up with a list of characteristics that Geoff would use to weave together a workable recipe based on ingredients that they already had on hand. It would be well balanced black ale with a little rye and mainly late addition hops that would weigh in around a healthy 7% ABV.

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A well balanced beer requires well balanced brewers.

The brewers wanted it be released for American Craft Beer Week with a firkin on the porch. AVBW was just a couple of weeks away so the beer needed to brewed soon and Maria was leaving in two days for a one week whirl wind of business trips. It seemed like we were going to have rush the fermentation to get done in time until I half jokingly mentioned “I guess we could do it tomorrow.” Geoff looked at the schedule and said “works for me”.

This beer was literally going from idea to kettle in less than 12 hours. Thus my present current state of uneasy sleep. I still couldn’t beleive we were going to brew a beer at the place we learned to love craft beer. If this was a dream I didn’t want to wake up.

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