Indeed Brewing Company head brewer Josh Bischoff remembers when a trip to Colorado wasn’t complete without smuggling back a trunk full of Fat Tire. Before 2007, when New Belgium Brewing Company began distributing to the Minnesota, that was the norm for New Belgium devotees. Fast-forward nine years. Now, not only can Bischoff get his Fat Tire fix whenever he wants, but he’s also become part of the New Belgium beer team—at least temporarily.
Bischoff and the rest of the Indeed crew recently working with the New Belgium team as part of the Beers With Vrienden series. (Vrienden means “friends” in Flemish.) The two breweries are collaborating on two beers: Come Together Honey Wheat Wine, which was brewed in Fort Collins back in March and will be available on draft in Minnesota starting April 27, and Strawberry Fields Sour, which will be brewed at Indeed on April 29.
So how and why did the nation’s fourth-largest craft brewer pair up with Indeed to make a beer? It’s not just because both breweries share a love of bikes (although that didn’t hurt). The answer lies in the story of three Minnesota transplants that landed in Colorado, but who, like true Minnesotans, kept ties to their native state.
Transplant number one is New Belgium production director Travis Burge. He makes frequent trips back to Minnesota in search of new beers and, on a recent visit, went to Indeed to see what they were up to.
Enter Matt Pollock and Jake Thompson, two former Indeed employees who—you guessed it—both moved to Colorado and started jobs at New Belgium in April 2015, unbeknownst to each other. “Funny story there,” says Pollock of his hiring. “Jake accidentally found out that I had been hired during his final interview. I was driving into work at Indeed and was about to give them my notice and he called me out of the blue and asked if I had good news to share. I was a little bewildered and freaked out because I hadn’t told anyone yet.”
It turns out Pollock’s interview didn’t just land him a gig as a brewer at New Belgium, it also landed his former employer a gig as a New Belgium collaboration partner. “As I went through the interview process with Matt, I was blown away by Indeed’s focus on quality and their program on how they run things,” Burge remembers. He ended up meeting Indeed’s owners at the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference, and they quickly bonded. Instead of being mad over losing a brewer, the guys from Indeed were fun and friendly, Burge recalls. And just like that, the foundation for Come Together was laid.
When New Belgium came to Minneapolis for Tour de Fat last July, the two breweries spent more time getting to know one another and ironing out the details. Once interstate logistics and brew schedules were sorted out, the fun began.
Indeed and New Belgium decided to produce two beers together: Come Together Honey Wheat Wine, which they would brew in Fort Collins, and Strawberry Fields Sour, which they’d make in Minneapolis.
For New Belgium, it was more than a fun experience to collaborate with friends—it was a chance to experiment with a new ingredient. “New Belgium hasn’t really used honey in our fermentations before,” Burge says of Come Together, which he describes as “more Lips of Faith style” than any of their flagships. “It was something that I’ve always wanted to try and play with.”
For Indeed, the collaboration is affirmation that they’re on the right track. “Collaborating with one of the best and biggest craft brewers is a very humbling experience after only three-and-a-half years,” says Indeed co-founder Nathan Berndt. “You see bits of New Belgium at Indeed because we have always admired them for their dedication to quality, community, and company culture.”
Burge agrees. “We feel they’re coming along the same path that we came up,” he says. “We see a lot of things akin to us, a lot of ourselves in Indeed.”
Release parties for Come Together Honey Wheat Wine are scheduled for Sporty’s Pub, The Muddy Pig, and The Depot Tavern on April 27, 28, and 29 respectively. (Indeed cannot sell the beer at their taproom due to the fact that it was brewed at New Belgium. New Belgium is keeping a small amount to sell in their Fort Collins taproom, too.)
The brew day for Strawberry Fields will take place at Indeed on April 29. They’ll be brewing it as a kettle sour using New Belgium’s proprietary lactobacillus cultures. When ready, it will be sold at Indeed’s taproom and select local accounts; locations TBD. It, too, will be draft only.