By Dan Parker, Craft Beer and Culinary Specialist at Original Gravity
Editor’s note: This content was sponsored by Original Gravity
Collaboration beers. It seems like everybody’s got one… or twelve. But many of them are little more than advertising opportunities—a way for a brewery to reach markets otherwise unexposed to its brand.
A true collaborative effort, however, is a thing of beauty, and a natural extension of the amity valued so highly in the craft beer world. Collaborations allow two or more breweries to come together to share ideas, experiences, and ingredients to create one-of-a-kind beers.
When Minnesota’s own Lift Bridge Brewing Company and Odell Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado, decided to do a collaboration brew, the emphasis was on a sincere cooperative effort. Melding ingredients that represent each brewery’s products, personality, and philosophy into a single beer was a multifaceted undertaking. Having been a lucky participant in this brew, I had a firsthand look at what it took to make this partnership come to fruition. I took a few minutes to speak with each of the brewmasters to get an understanding of the ingredients and process that went into this truly collaborative beer.
The inspiration came from the “ultimate goal of brewing a beer that resembles a peach cobbler,” says Bill Beymer, brewmaster at Odell Brewing. Lift Bridge’s brewmaster Matt Hall echoes that sentiment. “A cobbler-inspired beer not only sounded fantastic, but…a beer with a collaborative nature that speaks to the camaraderie found within our industry.”
The body of the beer features a complex malt bill, beginning with pale and Pilsner malts as the base. “To round it out and give it some subtle malty character we have used Munich malt,” Beymer says. “There is also a touch of wheat in the beer to give it some body and creamy mouth feel. Finally, there is Caramalt to give it some color.”
Amarillo hops were selected for this beer “because of their fruity attributes to help accentuate the peaches,” explains Beymer. Brewers from both Lift Bridge and Odell took turns incorporating additions of the Amarillo hops which have been described as lending floral, tropical, citrus, and distinct orange-like character.
Of course, the all-important yeast was not taken lightly when designing this collaboration either. “We went with our Belgian Farm Girl yeast for this brew,” says Hall. “We typically find that it imparts a slight peppery/clove-like spice character. This yeast can also lend a very mild fruitiness but the ester profile from the peaches will be the star of the show.”
At this point, we have all of the makings of a tasty brew. But what about all of this talk of peach cobbler? Both breweries carefully chose additive ingredients that would mirror elements of the classic Southern dessert and contribute to an overall peachy, spicy character.
First, of course, were the peaches. “The peaches are from Hotchkiss, Colorado,” Beymer tells me. “We select these Colorado peaches every year for our Tree Shaker Peach IPA because they are so full of rich peach flavors.” Anyone who has had a fresh, ripe Colorado peach can surely attest to that.
A good cobbler needs a touch of spice as a foil to the sweetness. Cardamom was selected as a for its spicy bite and, as Hall explains, “it will be interesting to see how the pine & eucalyptus notes from the cardamom melds with the spice character from the Farm Girl yeast.” Cardamom is also significant in that represents another key ingredient from the Lift Bridge portfolio—it’s a defining element in their sought-after barrel-aged Commander Barleywine.
In a nod to barrel-aging—a cornerstone technique for both of these breweries—and to round out the cobbler flavor profile, the collaboration brew was aged on oak staves to “contribute some vanillin and subtle oak character,” says Beymer. “It is coming along well.”
The finished product is named Peaks & Prairies Belgian Ale to underpin the cooperative efforts and is everything you’d expect from a true collaboration. It showcases elements of each brewery’s identity. Peach cobbler meets Belgian brewing tradition. Colorado meets Minnesota. Peaks meet Prairies.
With a slightly lower ABV for a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, this beer is overflowing with culinary promise. Fruit, spice, and vanilla notes all lend themselves to a wide range of dishes from savory duck and pork preparations to custards, panna cotta, and of course, sweet peach cobbler.
Look for limited releases of this collaboration at select restaurants across the Twin Cities this June as part of the monthlong Taps & Tables event.
Original Gravity is a central group of locally owned and operated distributors that are passionate about craft beer. We are committed to a common mission of building quality craft brands with first-rate craft brewers through a dedication to education, innovation, relationships, service and camaraderie in the Minneapolis / St. Paul and St. Cloud markets.