We often say it, but it remains true every time, we LOVE collaborations. With Valentine's Day been and gone, there is no exaggeration there. We genuinely are thrilled to write-up a new recipe, push a new concept, learn from others, play on others' brewkit and work together on a truly collaborative beer venture. But even they can grow predictable. At Weird Beard we are not those kinds of people! When Wild Weather Ales (WW) were looking to brew with us, we thought to do the whole collaboration thing a little different...
Bryan suggested we brew a different beer at each of our places quite close in dates and that we blended the two brews together, to release 3 new, collaborative beers. Our idea, although inspired by a black-and-tan, was to not be so obvious and to brew 2 beers other than an stout and IPA. There is no better way to hash out the concept of a recipe than over a few beers, so Bryan and Iain from WW met at the Lyric to do just that. I got to tag along.
Saying that, I wasn't just a "fly on the wall" and in writing this blog, I want to share a fair bit of the beers' design processes. I want the message to get across that this collaboration in particular was not a simple, neat exchange of a recipe sheet via email, which can be the case. First up there were a lot of fun options to brew and to blend which were discussed as we got some rounds in. I remember a Black IPA being suggested to be possibly blended with a Wheat beer as one idea. I also remember both sides were adamant we'd use Sorachi Ace. Now that won't come as a surprise to you.* And on the subject of Sorachi Ace, we got talking about the flavour and aroma profile of the hop and how it can be super coconutty, especially in darker beers. An example you may know is Fade To Black, our black IPA hopped with Sorachi. You may recall, and kudos if you do, that we even amplified the coconut flavour by putting the beer in BrewDog Camden's Hopinator with dessicated coconut at a tap-takeover and we even brewed a coconut version of the beer once.
On the subject of coconuts, and since Bryan and I had recently returned from a month-long trip to the States where our final days in Colorado had my hop-wrecked palate craving nothing but Oskar Blues Death By Coconut, we were inspired. The dark beer element would be a coconut stout! We wanted some chocolate and some coconut, nothing as sweet as Death By Coconut if you've ever had it; certainly more subtle so the blend of the 2 beers wouldn't be overpowering.
Which brings us to the second collab. The Wheat idea, with all the banana going on, didn't appeal to us. We had some thoughts of a Chocolate Orange Coconut mix and when we heard "oranges" we got to Saison. I won't say the minds of brewers are as simple as that, trust me I do not attempt to completely track Bryan's thought processes, but flavour matching and complimenting is key. Particularly in this instance. Adding orange peel to a saison wasn't too thrilling for us and after hearing of WW's antics with strawberries, peaches and all sorts of other flavourful adjuncts, we looked to their beers for more inspiration. Their Kaffir Lime Pale (Plain Sailing Weather) ignited that and the concept of a Kaffir Lime Saison, then blended with Coconut Stout seemed wild but not crazy. With my mini-Kanken stuffed with Wild Weather cans, our brainstorming session was over and the next stages of recipe development needed paving.
Now this part is more lazy chemistry than Breaking Bad, but Bryan and myself had a night of preparing a dried coconut tincture, a suitable stout of our choice, Kaffir Lime Pale can, our Saison 14 (because it has loads of lovely Sorachi in it) and multiple glassware. We infused the stout to get the desired degree of coconut flavour and so, created a quick coconut stout for our experimentation. We then mixed a mashup of the Kaffir Lime Pale with Saison 14, but also kept some Saison 14 aside. We got carefully blending, tasting and comparing. As rudimentary as the tests were, it all tasted good and provided some security that we weren't all embarking on a collaboration that would put out downright rank tasting beer.
We brewed Coconhagen Interpretation, the Coconut Stout, at our place with WW over (it can be found in bottle, keg and cask). It's got a fair bit of chocolate malt and is full of oats for a creamy mouthfeel and luxurious taste to soften the darker and robust flavours of the style. Weighing in at 6.5%, it's a pretty typical ABV for us and we like a stout to have er, well, some "strength". We've hopped this treat of a brew, with our beloved Sorachi Ace for the fresh coconut aroma and flavour we mentioned earlier, and thrown some classic EKG so it's bitter enough so you're not fooled that you're drinking a liquid chocolate bar. It is wittily named after the Copenhagen Interpretation, an expression of the meaning of Quantum Mechanics that explains why the same quantum particle may behave in many different ways. If you're wondering why it's getting so tech-y all of a sudden, you'll need to keep that brain of yours working a bit more to derive the solution.
At WW, we made Kwantum State, the Kaffir Lime Saison (it can be found in keg and cans). With a suitable pale and light malt-bill for easy-drinking qualities, Belle Saison yeast and Kaffir Lime, the beer has a twist on the citrus edge. Spiciness from the French farmhouse yeast compliments the zesty lime which works intricately with white grape notes from Nelson Sauvin hops. Plus, there is more Sorachi love going on with that thrown in too for lemon sherbert and some coconut. Another carefully formulated beer, so-named after Quantum State...I'm sure you're following the trend.
Bringing the two together and blending a 50:50 mix, the blended product is called Such a Bohr. The name a nod to our unconventional collaboration methods and to Niels Bohr, the Danish Physicist who made monumental progress in understanding Quantum Theory. (At this point, if the penny hasn't dropped you ought to understand why you flunked A-levels Science). Such a Bohr can found in keg and cans.
All these beers are launching at BrewDog Shepherd's Bush from 6pm tonight. Come along to meet and greet their makers, and taste the two separate beers and the clever blend physic-ally for yourselves. We're very excited for the beers and the event.
* What will, is we've actually used up all our Sorachi Ace and we're still going out buying or trading for more Sorachi. Thanks Cloudwater, thanks WW! There's no stopping us #SorachiLove.