Collaboration Fest, which has become the state's signature beer festival, takes place Saturday, and the choices this year are nearly overwhelming. The fifth annual iteration of the event includes 123 collaborative beers from more than 200 different breweries, most of them in Colorado, but some from out of state and even overseas. Many of the the collaborative beers are one-off experiments created just for the fest (which takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Downtown), although many have already been tapped at the hosting breweries, or will be in coming days.
This year looks heavy on kettle sours, non-traditional saisons and, of course, hazy New England-style IPAs, but there is also a healthy dose of Belgian styles, like tripels and quads, for a little extra variety. And there are plenty of beers made with herbs, spices and some very, very unusual ingredients. You may have heard, for instance, about a stout made from butter (New Image Brewing and Molly’s Spirits), a golden ale brewed with climbing chalk (Wynkoop and White Labs), and another made with a bunch of snow (Little Machine and Joyride Brewing).
Or how about the What the Duck Five-Spice Gose from Caution Brewing and Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub?
Whatever your tastes, there's bound to be something for you — and, yes, there are a few tickets left to collaborationfest.com — but here are few solid bets.
Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales and Speciation Artisan Ales
The owner of Michigan's Speciation trained under James Howat at Black Project here in Denver, so this collab is going to be cool — and probably sour.
Black Shirt Brewing and Elevation Beer Company
This Belgian quad was aged in Woody Creek Distillers whiskey barrels. Reports are that it smells like toasted marshmallows and drinks like liquid cacao. These two breweries are experts at barrel-aging quads.
Bruz Beers and Briar Common Brewery + Eatery
On All Fours Cherry Tart Kettle-Soured Belgian Quad
Bruz does Belgians, and Briar Common is building its cred with kettle sours, so what better way to try a combination from two underappreciated Denver breweries?
New Belgium Brewing and the Rare Barrel
On the Shoulder of Giants
What do you do when two of the best American producers of sour beers get their brains together? You make a beeline for the resulting beer. This is a golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with peaches and jasmine pearl tea.
Cerebral Brewing and Outer Range
Megafauna Triple IPA
Do you like hazy IPAs? Yes, you do. So you'll want to head directly to this booth, where two of the state's best have cooperated on a big old triple IPA. The juice is loose.
Cellar West Artisan Ales and Alesong Brewing & Blending
Song of the West Oak Aged Saison
Cellar West has quickly gained credibility for its Brett saisons and other beers. Alesong is also a rising star in the world of sours and wilds, so this "super saison," brewed with rye and wheat, should be delicious.
Lakewood Collaboration: WestFax Brewing, Landlocked Ales, Green Mountain Beer, Caution Brewing, Great Frontier and Ironworks Brewery
Kilting Me Salty Scottish Wee Heavy
I just like the name. Sorry.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing and the Lost Abbey
Barking Iron Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Blend
Liquid Mechanics made two collabs inspired by cocktails (see the second one below). The first, with famed California brewery the Lost Abbey, was inspired by the Revolver (a cocktail made with rye whiskey, coffee liqueur and orange bitters) and is a blend of two barrel-aged imperial stouts with coffee, orange peel and chestnuts added.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing and Wiley Roots Brewing
Pimms Yo! Sour Blonde Ale Blend
The second collaborative mocktail from Liquid Mechanics was done with burgeoning sour- and wild-ale maker Wiley Roots. This one was inspired by Britain's Pimm's Cup cocktail and is a blend of gose, kolsch and Belgian IPA that was then infused with cucumber, ginger, strawberry, mint, lemon and lime. Jolly good!
Little Machine Beer, Mason Ale Works and Joyride Brewing Co.
Fresh p0w Fresh Hopped Zero IBU IPA
Yeah, Colorado beers are known for their water (thank you, Coors), but what about the snow? Little Machine headed to the hills to get some fresh snowfall for this low-bitterness IPA.
Lone Tree Brewing and Cannonball Creek Brewing
Dry Hopped Malt Liquor
Craft brewers have been having fun over the past two years bringing back updated versions of that potent potable: malt liquor. Yes, malt liquor. Gotta get cold-cocked by this one.
Tivoli Brewing and Schoenramer Brewer
Hi En Brau Dunkel
Since Tivoli Brewing was founded in 2012, it has reincarnated nearly a dozen beers and brands from Denver brewing history. The latest is Hi En Brau, a Rocky Mountain bestseller in the 1950s. To make it even better, Tivoli teamed up Eric Toft, a highly decorated brewmaster for Private Landbrauerei Schönram, a 287-year-old brewery in Bavaria.
Steamworks Brewing and Dry Dock Brewing
Nice Pear Sake/Beer Hybrid
These two breweries like to get together because Dry Dock contract-brews beer for Durango's Steamworks. A couple of collabs this year involved sake yeast, which is a fun style to try.
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Weldwerks Brewing and Casey Brewing and Blending
Transmountain Diversion Double IPA
You can't go wrong when two of the most loved, most sought-after breweries join up to make a hazy IPA. A few lucky customers got to try this one a couple of weeks ago at the Weldwerks anniversary bash.
Wibby Brewing and some members of the media
Throwing Stones Stienbier
Longmont's Wibby Brewing hosted various members of the media this year to brew a fascinating lager made by adding heated granite rocks to the wort. Yes, very cool. Here's one of several stories about it.