Collaboration beers created when two (or more) craft brewers join their creative forces into a singular beer are one of the driving creative forces for growth in the industry, and we think LA could use a few more collaborative brews! Here are five ideas for pairings between LA’s craft breweries and some culturally important institutions.
Brewers joining forces to create a collaboration beer is an important part of craft beer culture, and over the years there have been many stellar batches brewed. The past few years have been especially fecund for collaborations between breweries. Some memorable recent collabs that immediately come to mind are the Stone / Victory / Dogfish Head Saison Du BUFF, Maui Brewing Co and Coronado Brewing’s Hibiscus IPA, New Belgium and Alpine’s Super IPA under the Lips of Faith label, and Russian River Brewing joining with Sierra Nevada for the all-brett BRUX – just to name a few.
At first glance, 2013 looks to be a much less prolific year, but there are still many collaborations happening (especially among newer LA breweries). However, this year’s collaborations seem to be pairings of breweries with non-brewing entities like restaurants, bars, and chefs. For example, we’ve seen Beachwood Brewing brew a stout with the Still Life tattoo parlour in Long Beach, El Segundo Brewing Co. team up with Tender Green Chef Eric Hulme for a cherry-infused saison, Monkish Brewing make a beer with Select Beer in Redondo beach for the bottle shop’s first anniversary, and now Mohawk Bend will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary with a beer brewed by the team at Golden Road Brewing.
The best collaborations should highlight the different strengths of each collaborator, and the final product should be something that is not achievable by one single member of the collaborating team.
With this in mind we’re proposing a few dream collaborations between LA’s craft breweries and some institutions that are important parts of Los Angeles culture.
The Dodgers and Golden Road Brewing – Blue Heaven IPA
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of LA craft breweries hitting the big time. Tony Yanow’s ambitious production brewery took its knocks in the first year of operation, but the well capitalized power-house has dialed in their beers and is aggressively expanding as they attempt to become LA’s hometown beer.
Having their beer poured at Dodger Stadium was a huge step for the brewery, and we can’t think of a better brewery to collaborate with the new Dodgers ownership group on a sessionable IPA that’s perfect for pouring at the stadium. Plus, they’re probably the only LA brewers who could tackle the scale of this project.
The Arclight Theaters and Angel City Brewery – Arclight Amber Lager
The progressive chain of movie theaters has expanded across Los Angeles in recent years, and one of the theater’s defining characteristics is the on-site bars (and limited screenings that you can actually drink beer in). Until the Alamo Drafthouse comes to LA the Arclight is still the best bet for sipping some suds with your flick, but the craft selections at most Arclight locations are lacking – to put it lightly. The chain is in a period of rebranding and reorganization, and we think an increased emphasis on fresh, local brews could do them some good!
An approachable beer would be ideal for pouring at the theaters, and Angel City’s brewmaster makes some tasty lagers. A Vienna Lager would be a non-challenging style that is still flavorful enough for craft connoisseurs, and Angel City certainly has the production capability to meet the demands of this contract. Plus, their tap handles fit right in with the Arclight’s branding.
Grill ‘Em All and Eagle Rock Brewery – Satanist
Okay, the name’s got to go, but the idea is sound. The heavy metal-themed food truck-cum-restaurant is closely tied to Eagle Rock Brewery (also, the first time I ever had a Behemoth was at the ERB taproom), and the new Alhambra brick-and-mortar home of the burger-slingers regularly pours Eagle Rock beer. The forces behind both companies are already friends, and we’d wager there’s been talk about a collab beer at some-point between them already.
There are many great options for a collab brew style here (and better names too). Our first thought was a schwarzbier because what’s more metal than a black lager, but that style is pretty close to Eagle Rock’s flagship Solidarity – and the lager brewing process would put additional strain on ERB’s already tight pipeline. There was a fantastic black IPA brewed for this year’s Session Fest, and brewer Lee Bakofsky’s light-but-hoppy BSIPA would pair wonderfully with many of Grill ‘Em All’s signature ‘burgs.
The Patina Restaurant Group and The Bruery – Hollywood Bowl Saison
LA’s most iconic concert venue is known for the 4th of July spectacular, the Summer pops series, and the dozens of world-class acts that have held once-in-a-lifetime performances at the idyllic amphitheater. The ‘Bowl is also known to Angelenos for the preshow picnic opportunities and pre-assembled picnic spreads available on-site from the Patina Restaurants. Wine is the more common picnic pairing, but we like beer when dining al fresco even more. Earthy and complex saisons are our go-to picnic brew, and Orange county’s The Bruery makes some killer versions. The Bruery is also known for their wine-like packaging and branding that would help draw-in wine lovers who are curious about craft beer.
The Bruery already produced a saison that would be a perfect fit for the collaboration – their oaky and subtly funky Saison Tonnellerie. The Bruery is no stranger to collaboration beers, and they regularly work with other breweries and other entities to make some experimental one-offs. Send some Patina chefs down to Placentia for a day of brewing with Patrick Rue, and we’d wager something delicious would result.
Beer of Tomorrow and ???
Does Beer of Tomorrow count as culturally significant to Los Angeles? We like to think that we are – at least to beer-culture… We’d love to work with a local craft brewery on a special beer. We might not be great brewers, but we are idea-people (and we’ve got lots). From milds to pilsners to berliner weisse and table-sours, we can bring some creativity and a (small, but thirsty) built-in audience.
Craft breweries of Los Angeles, you know where to find us.
Collaboration beers are not only a unique and interesting aspect of the craft beer industry, we think that they are integral to it! They spark creativity – the lifes-blood of craft brewing – and they strengthen the community – both locally and on a wide-level – by providing ad-hoc projects that generate a lot of buzz.
Collaboration is good for everyone. Plus, it’s really fun to play match-maker and dream-up fantasy collaborations and the beers that would result.
What’s your wish-list of breweries or other entities that you want to collaborate on a beer together?