This summer Altitude participated in three brewing collaborations. Brewers gathering together to brew is nothing new, but this new wave of collaboration beers is changing the American craft beer scene in very good ways. In the same way that genetic diversity is needed for physical health, ideological diversity is needed for mental health. When we gather together to brew one beer, no two brewers have the same ideas or brewing practices, creating an environment where we can learn from one another and hopefully discern better practices which result in a higher standard of quality. While it is not true that every brewer has the ability to listen to others and make improvements, collaborations demonstrate a commitment to serving you, the patron of craft beer, a product created with high standards in mind.
Which leads to an interesting note about craft beer culture. Why are competing businesses sharing ideas that help one another out? First, I don’t think collaborations are supposed to make sense. In fact, financially they certainly don’t. Second, each brewery has a different reason for collaborating. But on a very fundamental level, I think brewers want people to have a good experience with beer regardless of who’s beer he or she is drinking.
Notes on each collaboration
* April 20th: Wind River Brewing Co hosted a state-wide collaboration, where 13 of Wyoming’s 14 breweries participated in the production of an IPA. Simply awesome to see an entire state rally together like that.
* May-June: Jeff Doyle from Odell’s Brewing in Fort Collins traveled up to Laramie with some incredible hops and made an IPA unlike any I’ve ever tasted. The following month I traveled to Odell’s and made a partial sour mash on their pilot system which they poured at the Downtown Laramie Brew Fest.
* July 30th: A handful of mountain region reps from Sierra Nevada joined me in Laramie to brew a SN Pale Ale clone for an in-house competition they have each year in Chico, CA. This unlikely relationship began when fellow Altitude brewer, Jared Long, traveled to Chico last autumn for Beer Camp where he, along with other home brewers from across the nation, brewed Alternate Ending.