Every year for the past six years, Collaboration Fest has showcased the collective effort of more than one hundred breweries and the Colorado Brewers Guild working together to create unusual, special and one-off treats for the state's beer lovers. Producing the festival takes an immense amount of time and effort and emotion. Unfortunately, the seventh annual Collab Fest, which was scheduled for Saturday, April 4, had to be suspended this year, along with everything else, because of coronavirus.
Most of the beers that were brewed specifically for the festival will probably be released anyway, but not all under one roof. Instead, individual breweries are selling (or have already, like WeldWerks' JuicyFish) the creative one-off brews out of their taprooms for carryout only. A whole slew of collaborative beers will be available today (see the list below). Many will taste bittersweet.
Some of these breweries are donating a portion of sales back to the Craft Brewers Guild (which generally relies on Collab Fest as one of its biggest yearly fundraisers). Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, for example, will give $2 for every Crowler of its four collaboration beers to the guild, while Epic Brewing is sending $1 for every can of Epically Strange it sells to the not-for-profit organization. New Image Brewing is chipping in $1 from every collaboration can or bottle sold, and WeldWerks has already been adding $2 from its six-packs of JuicyFish.
"We wanted to make this an opportunity to give back to the incredible folks who put on Collab Fest — the Colorado Brewers Guild," New Image Brewing writes. "As the Covid-19 precautions went into effect, the CBG worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make clarifications with the state so that we understood how to operate. That’s no easy task, and we can’t thank them enough."
Here are some of the collaboration brews to watch for this weekend and beyond:
All in This Together
Yes, the name of this beer was changed to reflect the hashtag and slogan that people are using to try and unite one another during the coronavirus pandemic. But it would have been a good name anyway, since the collab was between four breweries (one now closed) that are united both by goodwill toward their fellow brewers and by their proximity to one another in part of Denver that is sometimes overlooked by brewery-goers. Brewed with real limoncello and hopped with 100 percent Lemondrop hops, this 8.1 percent ABV sour kviek is the tart child of Woods Boss Brewing, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, Spangalang Brewing and Liberati Restaurant & Brewery (which closed in late February, just before the brew took place). "Fresh squeezed Meyer lemons erupt from the glass. Intense flavors of mouth watering sour lemons smother your palate," says Woods Boss, which will sell the beer to go — as will Jagged Mountain.
Garudarado, Brave New Pils and Mole
In addition to All in This Together (above), Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery worked on three other collaborations. The first is Garudarado, a Sichuan peppercorn and mushroom wheat ale brewed with homies at 14er Brewing, Mockery Brewing and Baere Brewing. "Inspired by a brewing trip to Tibet last year [and] using Sichuan peppercorns found in a local market on the trip as well as dried mushrooms," the brewery says. The second is Brave New Pils, a Bohemian pilsner with aged whole-leaf Chinook hops brewed with the crew at Black Project. The third beer is Mole Imperial Stout, which was brewed in conjunction with Morenos Beer in Mexico City. It's made with dried ancho chiles and a special mole spice blend from Oaxaca, Mexico.
Strange Times Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter
"Through the kindness and generosity of friends in the craft beer industry," Strange Craft Beer Company says, the company is able to release its first canned beer, Strange Times, a collaboration with San Antonio's Freetail Brewing. A Baltic porter that was aged for three months in a Kentucky wheated bourbon barrel provided by Argonaut Wine & Liquor, the beer "stands up well to the sweet floral and bold vanilla notes of the bourbon barrel, with hints of spice and cinnamon in the finish." There are only 750 cans available (both at Strange and at Argonaut). The label features tongue-in-cheek artwork from Strange's own Dave Palmer. The cans were provided and filled by Codi Manufacturing, a Colorado canning-line manufacturer that "generously offered to can beers for Front Range breweries after they were shut down as part of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order."
Epic Brewing and Strange Craft Beer Company first got together five years ago at the inaugural Collaboration Fest to make Epically Strange and Strangely Epic, different versions of Epic's Big Bad Baptist coffee stout blended with Strange's Cherry Kriek. By themselves, the two beers are famous in the craft-brewing scene, but the blended versions of both had become cult favorites. Visit the Epic Brewing website to pre-order some for yourself.
Strat Boy American Pilsner
Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden and Pizza Port Carlsbad have shed their IPA image to brew this 100-percent Strata hopped pils. It has "notes of peach, grapefruit and a hint of the Devil's cabbage," giving way to "an incredibly crisp, dry finish." At 5.4 percent ABV, you can probably drink more than one of these. Strat Boy is available for pick-up at Cannonball Creek; check the brewery's Facebook page for hours and details.
Piña Colada Milkshake DIPA
Cheluna Brewing, located inside Stanley Marketplace, worked with Chicago's 5 Rabbit Cervecería on this 9.8-percent ABV tropical double IPA. You can pick up 22-ounce bomber bottles and 32-ounce Crowlers curbside outside the marketplace starting at 11 a.m. Call 720-600-0020 to order (though the beer may sell out).
Next Stop Brewing (formerly Intrepid Sojourner) releases its collaboration with Georgetown's Guanella Pass Brewing. This 7 percent ABV "raw ale," with rosemary and thyme in lieu of hops, was fermented in red wine barrels on fresh grape must with kviek yeast. It's the kind of bizarre experiment Collab Fest was made for.
Milk and Honey and Expanding Exponentially
Knotted Root Brewing in Nederland will release both of these beers at noon. Milk and Honey is an 8 percent ABV "unfiltered imperial oat cream IPA" brewed in collaboration with Fiction Beer. "Hopped in the kettle with Southern Passion, then double-dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin and The Bruce, we added a hefty dose of lactose to produce a silky mouthfeel and some local wildflower honey for a rustic sweetness," Knotted Root says. "Think Golden Grahams, lychee sorbet, and orange blossom honey sticks." Expanding Exponentially Unfiltered Spelt IPA was brewed with Cellar West Artisan Ales. "As a twist, we utilized mostly all European ingredients for this hoppy ale, including Belgian pilsner malt, German spelt, English golden naked oats, French Barbe Rouge hops and German Callista hops. And then we added a touch of Mosaic — cause ’Merica."
Liquid Idiom and Carrate Cake
Fiction Beer Company has released two of its collaborations in cans. Liquid Idiom New England Style IPA was made by Fiction and Greeley's Wiley Roots Brewing with Nelson Sauvin and Sabro hops, along with a crazy-sounding experimental hops blend called US ProvOak, which is a blend of hops and toasted white oak powder. Carrate Cake, a collab with Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works, is a carrot cake sour with carrot juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and lactose. Get Fiction's beer online, curbside and, in some cases, via delivery.
Breakfast at Molly's
New Image Brewing made three collaborations. The first, Joben Imperial Stout, appears to be sold out. The second, VaNiller Time — made with Call to Arms Brewing — goes on sale next week. The third, Breakfast at Molly's, will be available at the brewery today. "A crisp lager infused with coffee and maple," the 5 percent ABV beer is "a perfect mix of complex and crushable," the brewery says.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.