Collaboration Fest is the Colorado Brewers Guild's marquis annual event, bringing together more than one hundred Colorado breweries that have participated in joint projects with each other and with breweries from out of state and even other countries. The goal: to highlight the camaraderie and collaboration that occur every day in the trenches of the state's craft-beer industry. And based on the beer list (which you can see on the festival web site), the sixth iteration of this festival, which takes place Saturday, March 16, at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, looks to be the best one yet, showcasing a vast array of amazingly creative and quality beers.
To kick things off, every attendee will get a welcome beer that was brewed by Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden, along with "help" from a few of Colorado's beer media members. The beer itself is a pre-Prohibition-style lager made with American 2-row barley and flaked corn for a touch of sweetness. It was hopped with Hallertau and Saaz hops, then dry-hopped with those same varieties to give it a Cannonball twist.
From there, things get wacky. In addition to a host of New England-style IPAs with delicious descriptions, festival-goers will find beer/wine hybrids; unusual sours; fruit, spice and vegetable beers; and some classic styles. Many of these beers will also be on tap at the breweries that made them before and after the festival, so even if you don't have a ticket, you may be able to try them around town. Here are fifteen to seek out.
I Have a Splinter in My Long Johns
Woods Boss Brewing, Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery, Hidden Mother Brewery
First the brewers ventured deep into Colorado's snowy mountains to harvest (with permission) a Ponderosa pine. They cut the tree down with a chainsaw, brought it back, carved it into a trough, filled it with pine boughs and poured a kveik-style beer down the center. The idea came from Spokane, Washington-based Hidden Mother, which has become the expert in using fresh cut trees as "hot wort luges." The technique comes from old Finnish brewing traditions, while the kveik yeast is Norwegian in origin. The brewery was a mess afterward, but the staff had fun.
Speed Management India Pale Lager
4 Noses Brewing and Odd13 Brewing
It's easy to trust these two breweries because they do everything well and most things spectacularly. For this collab, they brewed a New England-style hoppy lager, which is a fascinating combination of the lager and hazy IPA styles. To make it, the brewers used wheat, spelt and oats, then dry-hopped the result with Amarillo, Azzaca and Citra hops. One interesting connection: Odd13's former taproom brewer, Brandon Boldt, is now a brewer at 4 Noses.
Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Ice Cream Old Ale
Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery and 105 West Brewing
The teams from Jagged Mountain and 105 West got together last fall to brew an imperial English-style old ale, which they then poured into a rum barrel from Rocky Mountain Barrel Company. After letting it soak for three months, the brewers reconvened to add chocolate and dark cherry fudge ice cream from Little Man Ice Cream.
Trade Secrets Hazy Double IPA
Cerebral Brewing and Weldwerks
I'm not gonna lie: When the minds behind two of the best hazy IPA specialists in the state get together for a collaboration, there's going to be a lot of pressure. Not the kind of pressure that a bomb cyclone brings, but a lot, nevertheless. Still, I have no doubt that Trade Secrets will live up to that pressure. Brewed with Nelson Sauvin, Sabro and Citra hops, "in combination with dark magic, hocus-pocus and clandestine ritual," the beer has already sold out at both breweries, so the only place you can still try it is at Collab Fest.
Seedstock Brewing and Coal Mine Avenue Brewing
The owners of Seedstock and Coal Mine come from very different backgrounds and perspectives, but they both share "the same underlying passion for craft beer." That's why the two breweries decided to combine Seedstock’s Czech/European heritage with Coal Mine’s Latino heritage in the "spirit of craft beer week." Cultural Convergence starts with Czech Pilsner malt, traditional Czech Saaz hops, European yeast and a slight gose sourness. "Then we add Latino liveliness with cilantro, lime, jalapeño and salt," the breweries explain. "We think this is the definition of collaboration, and it sure makes for a damn good beer."
Baere Brewing and Mockery Brewing
Baere and Mockery renewed their longstanding friendship to create Mocking Baered Episode V: Morale Is Low, a Berliner-style weisse beer brewed with Root Shoot Malting raw wheat and malt. To push the creativity further, the breweries took the unusual step of fermenting the first runnings from the mash in a second-use Laws Whiskey House barrel, and the second runnings in a one-barrel stainless-steel fermenter. Sourdough bread starter yeast was used for both. The fermentation continues with Inland Island French saison yeast to bring "a zesty, tart and dry mixed-culture" beer. It sounds crazy.
Salmon of Capistrano Alt Beer
Call to Arms Brewing and Our Mutual Friend Brewing
With all of the crazy beers on tap at the fest, sometimes it's nice to calm the palate with a classic style that's easy on the tastebuds. For that, give this collab from Call to Arms and Our Mutual Friend a shot. The two breweries have been wanting to collaborate for a few years now, and decided to get together this time around for a beer made with all-Colorado ingredients. This alt was made with ingredients from Troubadour Maltings, High Wire Hops and Inland Island Yeast Laboratories.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing and Bottle Logic Beer
The folks at Bottle Logic — one of the best breweries in California — got together with Lafayette's Liquid Mechanics Brewing six months ago to create a double barrel-aged barleywine. Since Liquid Mechanics is one of the top Colorado breweries when it comes to barrel aging, it's hard to imagine this won't be great.
Peanut Butter Jelly (Blend) Concept
Little Machine Beer and Joyride Brewing
This two breweries have a ton of fun when they get together, which they've done for three years now in honor of Collaboration Fest. The brewers also like to mess around, which is why they have created some sort of peanut butter brown ale that will be blended into something jelly-like (Razz Against the Machine?).
Where I Leave
TRVE Brewing and New Belgium Brewing
About a year ago, the TRVE crew went up to Fort Collins for a blending session and a meeting of the minds at New Belgium. The result of that day is Where I Leave. "This beer is composed of a specific blend of beer we hand-selected from one of the bajillion New Belgium foeders and barrel-aged stock from the Acid Temple. The result is an incredible melding of our house cultures and characters," TRVE explains. "We can’t even express how big a deal this is for us. To have collaborated with such an incredible, long-standing brewery, one that inspired us, and one we’ve looked up to as long as we’ve been able to drink beer, is a massive honor."
Crooked Stave, Mockery Brewing, Great Divide Brewing, Black Shirt Brewing, Epic Brewing, Our Mutual Friend, 14er Brewing Company
I went from never having had a beer made with mushrooms to trying two of them within the first two months of 2019. So I am excited about this third example in three months. Seven of the River North Art District's breweries got together to cook up this German-style dark lager that was made with nearly thirty pounds of shiitake and oyster mushrooms from GrowHaus.
Primitive Beer and Liquid Mechanics Brewing
Primitive Beer Company, which opened last year in Longmont, only makes spontaneously fermented, uncarbonated, wood-aged sour and wild ales. Oh, and then the brewery serves them to-go in plastic bags encased in boxes. Sounds weird, right? Well, it is, but it's also surprisingly delicious. For Primitive's collaboration with Liquid Mechanics, the brewers used Belgium's Methode Traditionnelle guidelines to brew a lambic-style beer and then re-fermented the beer with nectarines.
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Ramen Golden Ale
Chain Reaction, Strange Craft, Black Sky, Brew on Broadway, Fermly
These four breweries get together every week during the year to brew experimental one-barrel beers, so there was nothing out of the ordinary about their partnership for Collaboration Fest. Well, mostly nothing. They did come up with the idea for a Golden Ale brewed with ramen spices and ramen noodles, and then fermented it with Strange Craft’s Cherry Kriek yeast. Although some may cringe, this beer will definitely be interesting. Fermly, an independent craft-beer laboratory, also participated.
Something Brewery and Colorado Plus Brew Pub
Have you ever had an avocado beer? I haven't, either. But everyone can try this collaboration between Something Brewery and Colorado Plus, who teamed up to make an avocado lime gose that is "surprisingly amazing," and "definitely a new kind of beer that tastes like a margarita."
Odell Brewing (RiNo Brewhouse) and Brewability Lab
For this light kettle sour, the folks from Odell's pilot brewery and taphouse in River North welcomed in the Brewability Lab, a brewery that was created specifically to hire people with developmental disabilities and teach them to brew craft beer. What's the connection? Brewability brewing equipment is Odell's original five-barrel pilot system — the namesake for its 5 Barrel Pale Ale. For this gose, however, the brewers added coconut, mango and lactose milk sugar for a velvety mouthfeel.