For the Love of Collaboration

Collaborations. We’ve done a few. We totally dig them, and have participated in a few ourselves. Recently we’ve been busy on the collaborative front. Not long ago we were visited by Sebastian Sauer, brewer and founder of Freigeist. We were very excited to work with Sebastian, and this mash up of masterminds created a twist on the black and tan. The frankenbeer will be a barrel aged Adambier blended with Gose. He helped come up with that, and he was a great guy to work with. Also hefted a pile of malt bags with the crew. Collaboration gold.

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Collaborative discussions can happen almost anywhere. Events, meetings, any large scale gathering of industry members opens up the chance to share ideas. But that’s largely surface details, quick snaps of conversation that gets held off for another occasion. Building a collaboration between breweries is that chance to dive in and share the ideas that get overlooked. Not only can it be one hell of a time, but seeing the daily processes of another brewery can enrich everyone’s working practices.

I had the chance to sit down with a couple of guys from our latest collaboration, Pete Batule and Matt Wisley from Upland Brewing, and get their thoughts on collaborations. Upland Brewing is located in Bloomington, Indiana, in case you were wondering. Our project with them is just as interesting as the Freigeist collaboration. Both locations will be brewing a different recipe, but using the same processes. The combined efforts will create a kettle soured beer, with Brett primary fermentation, aged in barrels and fruited at the end. As to their feelings on collaboration, well, there was a good chance that they were fans of the idea seeing as they came all this way to do some pretty cool stuff with us. Upland Brewing doesn’t participate in many collaborations, but they value the experience it offers. Pete looks at it as a way to build relationships between breweries. Not only can it be a fun experience, but there’s a lot to learn about the brewing process from each side. A challenge is finding the right way to blend the two different styles the breweries use into something that works. It takes a good deal of creative brainstorming, much of what the industry is already built upon.

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Our own Todd Holder had some ideas on collaboration as well. As a specialized craft, the brewing industry becomes a competitive industry. It builds a community of friends that bridges the relationship of friendship and professional drive. Because of the diversity, collaborations create a sharing environment, stressing again the chance and the need to share processes that may have become unique to each brewery and the teachings that go along with them. He stated that this allows brewers of different styles and mindsets to come together and exchange their ideas. Here at Prairie, we push to try things outside of the norm. With collaborations, there is the chance one brewer’s tried and true method will be new to another brewer. There is also the chance for the creation of brews that have a continuity with brewing processes, but potential for crazy inventive flavors and treatments of those flavors.

Matt spoke about the value of actually physically visiting another brewery. We live in a world that is super connected. Daily we can log into social media and see what is going on with colleagues, but that still creates a barrier. Seeing a brewery in action, as opposed to reading about it, opens up the exchange of ideas. It gives both the visiting brewer and the hosting brewer a chance of learning hands on about their processes and problem solving. Then, he added, the brewers can shape the product with their individual strengths with the equal sharing of ideas.

Brewers aren’t the only ones that get excited when they hear the word collaboration. What’s better than two of your favorite breweries getting together to create a mad genius brew for their fans? Maybe that can be topped when your favorite brewery opens up your eyes to an unknown option out there on the market for you. From the experience of working with other like-minded individuals to having something special and exciting to offer our fans. We love collaborations, and we hope you do too.

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