On Tuesday, beer-makers from five Colorado breweries gathered at Funkwerks in Fort Collins to whip up a special beer to commemorate the late Danny Williams and to raise money so that his family can keep his one-of-a-kind gold mine beer cellar.
"We pow-wowed on the recipe, and it came together pretty fast," says Funkwerks Brewing co-owner Gordon Schuck about the 10 percent ABV Belgian strong dark. The New Belgium, Odell, Crooked Stave and Ska breweries all participated.
Today, Rockyard Brewing in Castle Rock will host another collaboration when it teams up with six other local breweries to put together its own beer dedicated to Williams.
And the partnerships are just two of eight Danny Williams collaborations that have been organized in the western United States. Most of them will be sampled this May at the annual Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego, where more money will be raised.
Williams, who died in January at the age of 52, had worked for the Boulder-based Brewers Association for ten years as, among other roles, the organizer all of the beer that arrives for judging and sampling at the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver; in 2011, that included around 4,000 kegs or bottles. But he was even more well-known for his eight-acre property and beer cellar, a former gold mine built into the side of a Boulder County hill where Williams kept around 2,500 bottles of beer.
His family would like to keep the property, but need help paying the mortgage, which is why they created the Danny Williams Fund, which many of Williams's friends, including breweries, have donated money to over the past couple of months.
"One small brewery wouldn't be able to make a big difference, but if everyone who knew him wants to do something, it would," says Rockyard's Jim Stinson. Rockyard, along with Strange, Black Fox, Pikes Peak, Caution, Lone Tree, and Dry Dock breweries are creating an amber Grand Cru made with Belgian saison and brettanomyces yeast strains. Then they'll age the beer for months in red wind barrels from California.
The finished product (which won't be ready in time for the CBC) will be packaged in unusual one-liter flip-top bottles and sold in Colorado. "It will be a cellarable type of beer because Danny had his cellar with hundreds and hundreds of beers like it," Stinson says, who knew Williams for about a decade.
In the meantime, the Funkwerks collaboration, Danny's Goldmine Ale, will go on tap in about a month in the taprooms of the breweries involved, Schuck says. After that, New Belgium may brew a larger batch that could be bottled and see a wider distribution. "It was a bit of challenge," he explains. "We wanted something big enough to be cellarable, but we also wanted to turn it around fast enough to get it out to the CBC."
Both Stinson and Schuck credit New Belgium's sensory specialist, Lauren Salazar, for organizing the collaborations.
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The other collaborations (not all of which may come to fruition) include:
1) New Belgium/Odell/Ska/Crooked Stave/Funkwerks 2) Ninkasi and Pelican, Oregon 3) Marin Brewing, Iron Springs, Magnolia, Northern California 4) Oskar Blues, Wynkoop and Redstone Meadery, Boulder Beer 5) Lucky Bucket and Granite City, Midwest 6) Stone and Lost Abbey 7) Fifty Fifty Brewing in California