It takes two to tango at Collaboration Fest, where in past years dozens of Colorado breweries have teamed up to showcase new beers built in the spirit of teamwork, many of them one-time creations brewed just for the occasion.
But last year’s Collaboration Fest, originally scheduled for April 4, 2020, had to be canceled (along with the tango and just about everything else) because of the pandemic. Twelve months later, people are emerging from isolation with pent-up energy and Band-Aids on their arms. And while it's too early to know if the Colorado Brewers Guild will be able to host a delayed 2021 version of the festival sometime later this year, the state's breweries have continued to collaborate by the dozen — as they have always done.
Here are twenty of the many collaborations available right now on patios and in socially distanced taprooms near you — and a few that will be tapped, canned or poured in the coming weeks. Find ’em quick, before they're gone.
Hoppy Table Lager and Hoppy Table Saison
Bierstadt Lagerhaus and Amalgam Brewing
These two Bierstadt "collabierations" with Amalgam Brewing, a very small-batch brewery and blendery that doesn't have a dedicated taproom, hit the menu board last Friday. Bierstadt's Hoppy Table Lager is a 3.8 percent beer that was dry-hopped with Motueka and Grüngeist hops. Amalgam’s Hoppy Table Saison was dry-hopped with the same varietals. The beers are available in cans and bottles to go at Bierstadt.
Trade Secrets Vol. 2
Cerebral Brewing and WeldWerks Brewing
Two of Colorado's pioneers when it comes to hazy or juicy IPAs continue to work together and collaborate on a regular basis. Their latest team effort is Trade Secrets Vol. 2, an 8.3 percent ABV double IPA that was hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Citra and Idaho 7. Bonus beer: Cerebral also has cans of Brewers Dozen Imperial Donut Stout, made with black Hawaiian sea salt, caramel and vanilla; the beer is a collab with Berkeley Donuts, the breakfast side of Hops & Pie.
Lemon Squeeze Saison
Peak View Brewing and Lone Tree Brewing
Described as a combination of Lone Tree's "classic brewing techniques" and Peak View's "flare for innovation," this 6.8 percent ABV experiment is a farmhouse ale made with copious amounts of lemon, vanilla beans, poppy seeds and lactose — the last of which is typically found in pastry stouts and milkshake IPAs.
26 + 4 = Helles
Station 26 Brewing and 4 Noses Brewing
These two standout breweries teamed up to create two versions of the same German-style helles lager. The beer was brewed at both breweries using Pilsner malt from Leopold Brothers. Then 4 Noses aged its version in its oak foeder for a "subtle hint of vanilla and dry tannins reminiscent of white wine," the brewery says, while Station 26 dry-hopped its batch with Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin, the latter hop also having white-wine notes. The beers are only available at 4 Noses (in cans and on draft).
Brotherhood Foeder Hazy IPA
Cabin Creek Brewing/Locavore Beer Works/Tommyknocker Brewery
These three breweries gathered in Georgetown recently to brew Brotherhood, an IPA loaded with 5.5 pounds of Citra and Calypso hops per barrel. Fermented in Cabin Creek's oak tanks for "an added kiss of vanilla," the 6.6 percent ABV beer shines with notes of lemon, lime, ripe pear and tropical fruit, according to Cabin Creek.
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New Image Brewing and Station 26 Brewing
New Image loves to push the boundaries of style and experimentation, and its collab with Station 26 does just that. This "Cold IPA" is West Coast IPA that was brewed using lagering techniques. It has big flavors and aromas from Idaho Gem terpenes (concentrated hop oils), New Image says, and the crispness of a lager.
West Coast Cartel
Liquid Mechanics Brewing and Westbound & Down Brewing
Both of these breweries love clear IPAs, and both feature their own series of collabs with other breweries that focus on "West Coast" styles. So it makes sense that they teamed up on West Coast Cartel, an IPA that was dry-hopped with tons of Nectaron and Citra. You can find it in Lafayette at Liquid Mechanics and possibly still at Westbound & Down in Idaho Springs (call first). Bonus beers: Liquid Mechanics also currently has two other collabs on tap, Liquid Divide IPA with Great Divide Brewing and a dark lager with Launch Pad Brewery.
West Coast All-Stars
Westbound & Down Brewing and multiple breweries
Westbound's collab series of West Coast IPAs has resulted in eight to ten collabs with breweries in Colorado, California and elsewhere. The most recent two — with Grains of Wrath Brewing in Washington and Firestone Walker in California — came out in late January; you can still find them on local liquor-store shelves that carry the brand.
Hear Me Out Tropical IPA
Our Mutual Friend Brewing and Fermly
Fermly, a craft-brewing quality control, testing and analysis lab run by the former owners of Caution Brewing, has been setting up collaborations with breweries as a way to highlight the work it does. The most recent one was with Our Mutual Friend, where they brewed an IPA made with Norwegian kveik yeast and a combination of tropical hops made for the Pink Boots Society. The beer has notes of guava, mango and pineapple.
Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery and Goldspot Brewing
These frequent collaborators recently cooked up an unusual "caramel macchiato blonde stout," which was brewed with caramel, chocolate and coffee from Huckleberry Roasters. You can find it in cans at Jagged Mountain — but if you miss it, I guarantee that these breweries will work together again soon.
Dragon Fruit and Mango Hazy IPA
Goldspot Brewing and Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery
Did I say soon? Goldspot and Jagged Mountain also worked together on their annual Pink Boots Society International Women's Day collaboration a few weeks ago. The resulting beer is a hazy IPA featuring a blend of Cashmere, Ahtanum, Citra, Loral and Sabro hops, along with dragon fruit and mango.
Gettin' Caught in the Grain
Landlocked Ales/Evergreen Brewery/Mother Tucker/Coal Mine Avenue Brewing
And speaking of Pink Boots collabs, there are a number of them around right now, all raising money for the nonprofit organization that advocates for women in the beer industry. Landlocked Ales in Lakewood, for instance, has tapped Gettin' Caught in the Grain, which it brewed with the three other beer makers mentioned above. The beer is a piña colada-inspired saison made with fresh shredded coconut and a Pink Boots hop blend.
Luki Brewery and 4 Noses Brewing
This Pink Boots collab — also using the blend of Cashmere, Ahtanum, Citra, Loral and Sabro hops — "pays homage to PBS in both name and beer, with a whirlwind of hop additions added every five minutes to a Belgian wit malt bill and an additional dry-hop a week later to provide a delicious white IPA with tons of hop character and tropical, citrus and herbal notes," Luki says. $1 from each pint will be donated to the PBS Boulder chapter.
On the horizon: Here are a few more collabs to look forward to soon or soonish.
Bierstadt Lagerhaus and Hogshead Brewery
Hogshead owner Stephen Kirby and Bierstadt co-owner Bill Eye get together once a year to brew a traditional pilsner at Hogshead, which primarily serves English-style beers and cask ales. It will be tapped on July 9 at noon. Yes, that’s July, but this 5 percent ABV beer has a following, so you’ll want to mark your calendar now.
Trail of Dead Kolsch
Ratio Beerworks and Sire Brew
Ratio Beerworks doesn't do many collaborations, but it has decided to team up with two music-industry pros who are forming a brewery in Denver called Sire Brew. For their first project, they're making a beer with Austin band ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. A traditional German-style Kolsch, the beer was brewed with Grüngeist hops. It will be released on Saturday, April 17, at 2 p.m.
Unnamed Mixed-Culture Beer
Our Mutual Friend Brewing and Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales
Last Friday, the teams at OMF and Black Project got together to work on a "small yet mighty, mixed-culture offering featuring some Colorado base ingredients," including floor maltings from Leopold Bros. — a favorite of OMF's in recent months — fermented with a mix of house cultures from both breweries.