Brewers tend to be very creative and — sometimes after a few beers — friendly. These characteristics probably explain why beer collaborations among craft breweries have become so popular. That and the fact that the breweries in the craft brewing community often support each other. Beer collaborations have been happening for years and often culminate around an event or milestone.
The first all-female brewer collaboration happened last month and the results will be released during Colorado Craft Beer Week, March 18 through March 24. And other similar collaborations often happen around beer weeks. But it was a charitable cause that brought eight New York area breweries together to brew Surge Protector — an effort to raise money for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Many other recent collaborations have resulted in some tasty brews as well. Here are our top 10 picks for the best recent beer collaborations:
10. Life & Limb Rhizing Bines, 8 percent
Style: Imperial IPA
Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada
The Life & Limb beers are a series of beers that result from collaborations between the Delaware-based Dogfish Head and Chico, Calif.'s Sierra Nevada. Labeled as an imperial IPA, this copper brew is not a typical IPA. The mild citrus flavor is well balanced with a maltiness making this a quaffable but still somewhat high-alcohol beer.
9. The Perfect Crime, 6.8 percent
Style: Black Smoked Saison
Stillwater Artisanal Ales and Stone Brewing Co.
Late last year, brewers from Denmark's Evil Twin and Baltimore's Stillwater descended on Stone Brewing in Escondido, Calif., to brew a dark, smoked saison — a very unique style of beer. The dark brew features roasted malts, herbal spices, and a touch of smoke. The beer was released in November and sold out quickly. We can only hope the three breweries reunite soon.
8. Green Death, 7.75 percent
Style: Malt Liquor
San Francisco Brewers' Guild Members
The 10 members of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, including 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing, and Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, have been collaborating on special beers for the annual San Francisco Beer Week since 2009. This year's creation is not quite a beer but a malt liquor inspired by a beverage produced since 1934 that had earned the nickname, "Green Death." The San Fran craft brewers' version is rich but not terribly boozy (despite its high alcohol content) and was served last month at the 2013 San Francisco Beer Week.
7. Jersey's Finest, 7.1 percent
Style: American IPA
Flying Fish and Iron Hill
his past January, these two Garden State breweries released their second collaboration with a nod to their home state. The ale was brewed with a zealous amount of hops and received a lot of praise as a very unique creation by two of New Jersey's favorite breweries. A local senator was even on hand to help pour the first few drops at Iron Hill's restaurant and bar.
6. Shot a Man in Simcoe, 7.5 percent
Style: Belgian IPA
Lake Effect Brewing Co. and DryHop Brewers
Not just a funny name, this beer is an aggressive Belgian IPA created by the two Chicago-area brewers. The beer has a clean citrusy bitterness delivered by three different hops but also a dash of pepper that comes from the Belgian yeast. The beer was released last month at a few local Chicago bars.
5. Camp Braggot Ghost Stories, 10 percent
Lager Cigar City Brewing and B. Nektar Meadery
While not always associated with craft brewing, meaderies like B. Nektar are dedicated to crafting high-quality beverages. That's likely why they partnered with one of the best breweries in Florida, Cigar City, to create a meady lager brewed with honey, coconut, and a smoked tea. The high alcohol consequence was a dark brew with hints of chocolate.
4. My Funky Valentine, 9 percent
Style: Sour Ale
Bison Brewing and Beer by Bart
A slightly non-traditional collaboration, My Funky Valentine is the product of a joint effort between Beer by Bart, a purveyor of good beer in the Bay Area and Berkeley-based Bison Brewing. Gail Ann Williams of Beer by Bart is a brewer and contributed to the creation of the sour beer that developed into a tart but wine-like brew with hints of chocolate and dark fruit. This was another collaboration that debuted during San Francisco's Beer Week held last month.
3. Collaboration No. 3 Stingo, 8.5 percent
Style: English Strong Ale
Boulevard Brewing and Pretty Things Beer and Ale
Project Boulevard teamed up with the husband and wife gypsy brewers of Pretty Things last year to produce this strong ale. The latter drew from their experience brewing in Yorkshire as they created a Yorkshire Stingo, a long-forgotten beer style. The dark amber brown ale featured roasted malts and a slight tart flavor. The beer came out in August of 2012 but you may be able to find a bottle or two if you're looking for it.
2. Heavenly Feijoa, 9.4 percent
New Belgium Brewery & Dieu du Ciel
An entry in the New Belgium Lips of Faith series, this collaboration between the third largest craft brewery in the country and Canada's Dieu du Ciel incorporates some unique flavors. The Québécois brewers are responsible for the use of hibiscus while New Belgium threw in the feijoa. The combination produces a sweet but spicy brew.
1. Surge Protector IPA, 5 percent
8 New York area breweries
New York City's Barrier Brewing was a victim to the super storm that ravaged the five boroughs in late October 2012. In the wake of the storm, New Yorkers felt a need to come together and help each other and the brewing community was no different. What began as a project by two local beer writers morphed into a full-blown collaborative beer between Barrier and seven other local breweries. A portion of the proceeds went to help Long Island Cares, which was helping rebuild the impacted areas.