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2012, A CollaBEERative Year

Around the New Belgium parts of the American Craft Beer landscape collaboration beers are in our blood. The first was Transatlantique Kriek with Brouwerij Boon in 2004 and then again in 2008. The Trip Series beers with Elysian in Seattle started in 2008 as well, and together we have gone on to create 11 of those over the years with no plans on stopping. Then there was Vrienden with Allagash in 2010, a delicious brettanomyces and lactobacillus beer with Belgian endive and hibiscus flowers. 2011 saw Clutch, a dark sour with the Maryland hardrockers of the same name. And 2012 will be another year of collaborative beers, in fact, a year full of collaBEERations.

Coming this year are delicious beers with Lost Abbey of California, Brewery Vivant of Michigan (that's right Michigan, we're coming for you), another as yet unconfirmed (news coming soon) musical collaboration, and one more with the Alpine Beer Company out of San Diego. Seems like a lot to cover, so I am going to save all the pertinent info for the pertinent times and that leads us to today's post: A Beer with the Alpine Beer Company.

There are a few things that make collaborative beers awesome: the collective mind that is inherent in the process, the pairings of histories and styles of both breweries, the mixed expertise, the companionship and brewers getting to visit and brew in foreign brewhouses. Last week our very own Peter Bouckaert went out to San Diego county to hang out with Pat and Shawn (and others) of Alpine to make the first installment of this beer. Installment one was brewed at Alpine and will be available in Alpine bottles and in Alpine's distribution areas. Installment two (coming later this year) will be brewed at New Belgium and will be available in New Belgium bottles and in our distribution areas. Pictured right is Peter and Pat hanging out, talking about how great this beer is going to be.

These guys all got together and performed some beer making magic (probably closer to science) down there in SD. What I could take away from my interview with Peter (his accent is pretty thick) was that the beer brewed at Alpine is going to be a wonderful, very dry beer, spiced with pink peppercorns. The pink peppercorns bring a strange sweet/sour rather than overly peppery flavor, they are subtle and very interesting. Three hops were used in the beer: Motueka, Columbus and according to Peter "a third hop, a forgotten hop, no seriously, I forget what the third hop was." The beer is dry hopped and will carry a some pleasant lemon/lime and tropical fruit tones. Then there is the brettanomyces, added late in the fermentation and then again for bottle conditioning. The most wild and Belgian of all the wild and Belgian brewing yeasts, the brett in this beer should impart the typical brett characteristics, pineapple and funky awesome-ness. It sounds great, doesn't it?

And again, this version of the collaboration will be available through Alpine only. So if you are lucky enough to be within arm's reach of Alpine beers you should really go out and find some of this in the coming weeks. Otherwise you are going to have to wait until later this summer when New Belgium and Alpine will get together again in Fort Collins (this time) for another gem of a beer. From what I gather the beer brewed at NBB later this year is going to be an IPA of the real San Diego variety: bold, hoppy, delicious. But this summer is a long time from now and things could change, especially in brain's of wonderful and creative (and a little crazy) Brewmasters like these. But either way, stay tuned in and get ready for some great collaborative beers in 2012.

-Juicebox

PS. Photos came directly from Aimee Gilchrist's iPhone. Aimee does events and sponsorships for the New Belgium Brewing CO. in the Southern California area and vicinity. Thanks Aimee, you take real pretty pictures.