But that's not how it used to be...
Not long ago... Anheuser-Busch stormed its way to the top of the Beer Mountain. They were one of 3 games in town along with Miller and Coors. AB dominated so much of the beer world, it forced a merger between Miller and Coors. Even with that merger, AB still controlled most of the beer in the US. It was a dog eat dog world out there.
As I've mentioned before, if anyone is every curious about this - check out the beer-umentary called BEER WARS. These days, most people have a form of Netflix so check out the streaming movies and you can find it there. It gives you some great insight on what's our there... and explains why passionate craft beer drinkers are as passionate as they are.
That was then... this is now.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again... this is a great time to be a craft beer drinker. I mean, you've also heard it said, "Life's too short for... [fill in whatever applies to you]. So WHY can't the same be said about beer?
Admittedly, the big dawgs are still doing their thing. I am beer. Here me roar. Grrrr. They're making sub-par beer at best... no taste... blah... buying out the little guys and trying to continually dominate the market. But if you look closely, some of the top notch craft brewers are doing some pretty amazing things.
Here are some popular craft brewers, just to name a few: Sam Adams, Dogfish, Stone, Victory, Avery, Russian River, Green Flash, Sierra Nevada... Maybe you've heard of a few, or even all of them. All are doing well enough to stand on their own. But here's the kicker... they're not. What you are seeing these days is a new era of collaborative beers... and those that are paying attention are enjoying all the benefits.
In CT, Sam Adams beer is huge. Owner, Jim Koch is doing a lot of smart things. For "Joe Beer Drinker" most times, people will start the season by drinking a Sam Seasonal. It's nice out... Sam Summer. It's autumn, Sam Octoberfest... it's cold out, Sam Winter. You could easily see him try and dominate the market as well with what they're offering...
Or take, Sam Caligione of Dogfish (Head Brewmaster/Owner). Dogfish offers up a great lineup of beers, Raison d'Etre, My Antonia, Red and White, Punkin Ale, World Wide Stout, 60 Min, 90 Min, 120 min (if you can find it!) just to name a few. He doesn't really have to go beyond the walls of the brewery in Delaware to be successful...
But they do.
Check out the correspondence that I found thanks to http://beerstreetjournal.com:
I’m psyched! I love your idea of a collaboration beer for Savor! Can I throw out an idea to the get the process started? We still have some of the original barrels from 1993/94 used for Samula Adams Triple Bock. I think they were the first oak barrels used for beer with this barrel aging thing was just beginning. I think it would be cool to use those same barrels for our collaboration. We should think of something different to do with them this time around. And maybe some other boundaries of brewing to mess with. Any thoughts? Just brew it! -Jim
Barrel one? High gravity flower tinctures? You’ve got some sweet tools in your brewer’s utility belt Jim. As the Joker said of Batman, “Where does he get those wonderful toys!?” Sounds like a great direction for this recipe. I found some yummy rose syrup made with lemon juice and rose pedals in Turin, Italy. I will send some up for you guys to play with in the lab. I think we could add some in the whirl and it will marry-up to your muti-flower tincture in a sexy way down steam. I like what you wrote about the power of the flowers Jim. In fact, I suggest we simply call this beer Savor Flowers. By interweaving the beer and event names we can drive home the point that craft beer and beautiful foods belong together. - Sam
Taking two brewers who OBVIOUSLY know what they are doing based on the success of their respective breweries over the years... and having them get together to collaborate is a gift to us all. So Jim and Sam got together last year and concatenated a beer called Savor Flowers. Sadly, most of these collabortive beers have limited distribution, but if you are lucky enough to come across one, don't delay.
I'm sure there are a LOT more collaborations out there, so please excuse my CT East Coast bias... but other breweries that I have to showcase here are Stone Brewing Co and Victory Brewing. Along with Dogfish, they came up with a beer a few years ago called Saison Du Buff. Check out the video below:
Stone Brewing Co, as I mentioned a moment ago, is also leading the charge for collaborations... Chocolate Cherry Stout, Highway 78 Scotch Ale, Japanese Green Tea IPA. Follow this link to see what else they're offering up: STONE COLLABORATIONS
I'm so glad that the mindset of these craft brew front runners is not to take their ball and go home... but cooperate with one another and push the envelope of what there is to offer. Just because you do things a certain, doesn't make it right all the time so why not learn something new from your fellow brewer? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's a great time to be a craft beer drinker.
On the local front... Goose Island Brewing Company has stormed into CT with a vengeance. This week they are tap-ually taking over ALL FOUR Plan B Restaurant: Simbury, Glastonbury, Milford and West Hartford. In addition they were at Eli Cannon's last night in Middletown. They'll feature (5) of their featured drafts (and each restaurant will also have their top-of-the-line offerings). Here's their schedule moving forward for those that want to go check it out for themselves:
Milford Plan B, April 18 @ 7:30 p.m.
Simsbury Plan B, April 19 @ 6 p.m.
Wood-n-Tap Hartford, April 24 @ 6:30 p.m. (Beer & Food Pairing, $48)
West Hartford Plan B, April 26 @ 6 p.m.
From time to time, I've had the pleasure of having Goose Island when visiting friends in NYC... so this is GREAT news for the residents of CT. For those that can't make the above events, keep an eye our for the Goose at your local packy.
There's also rumor that Brooklyn's own Six Point Brewery will also be invading the beer fortress of solitude known as Connecticut. If this is in fact true... you don't want to miss out on what these guys bring to the table. Great things are on the horizon for good ol' CT.
For more information on all things CT Craft Beer related... check out the CT BEER TRAIL.