Brewing beer is a collaborative process by nature. From the first step of recipe creation, through the long days of brewing and packaging, the art of making beer is enhanced by the presence of others. And of course, celebratory drinking is a pleasure best shared with friends.
Some professional brewers take the sharing concept even farther, reaching beyond their own breweries to partner with other pros. With this simple act, competitors can become collaborators.
These collaborations often start socially, with brewers casually tossing out ideas for potential projects (whether or not these ideas are tossed out over a couple pints remains to be seen). From there, it’s a jam session, with a back and forth that turns the rough concept into a recipe, with a brew date on the calendar.
Sometimes the team-up is such a rousing success, the new beer is added to an annual release calendar to be enjoyed in perpetuity. But more often than not, collaborations are a fleeting thing, savored once and then gone forever. Such is the case with the beers listed below, some of our favorite collaborations to date. But take heart — each of these breweries has a reputation for innovation, and we’re sure there are more great collaborations coming soon. In the meantime, here is a list of our 5 favorite craft beer collaborations (that you might not get to try again).
The 5 Best Craft Beer Collaborations to Drink Now
Blackberry Farm + Rhinegeist
When two of our most loved breweries come together, you know we’ll be paying attention. Blackberry Farm’s delicious saisons set a standard for the industry. Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist is known for presenting fresh flavor combinations in a full slate of styles. Their collaboration Off the Table is an unexpectedly hopped up table beer, rich with Sterling and Huell Melon hops.
New Belgium + Allagash
New Belgium has collaborated with several breweries on its sour-focused Lips of Faith series over the years, but none were more exciting than its partnership with Maine’s master of wild ales, Allagash. Vrienden Ale was brewed at each location, with subtle variations. The New Belgium-labeled beer incorporated hibiscus flower and Belgian endive. The Allagash version was brewed with dandelion greens and elderberries. The beers were fermented with New Belgium’s Lactobacillus strain and the Allagash strain of Brettanomyces.
Cigar City + The Bruery
Dos Costas Oeste was the product of Cigar City’s wood aging experimentation projects and The Bruery’s knack for sweet, full and flavorful ales. It was released in cedar, grapefruit wood, and lemon wood variants which made for an epic side-by-side tasting experience.
Stone + Dogfish Head + Victory
The CEOs of craft beer veterans Dogfish Head, Stone, and Victory got together to brew Saison du BUFF in 2014. Pushing 7 percent alcohol by volume, this saison has been brewed at each partner brewery over the subsequent few years, following the original recipe in each iteration.
Sierra Nevada + (Almost) Everybody
Sierra Nevada is the king of collaboration. Most recently, the brewery released its recipe for Resilience Butte County Proud IPA to any brewery in the country that wanted to brew it and donate proceeds to California’s devastating Camp Fire. Sierra Nevada is also the originator of the Beer Camp Across America project, in which it collaborates with 12 breweries per year in a mixed twelve pack format. Previous years have featured collaborations with 3 Floyds, Bell’s, and Ninkasi among others.
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