Brewers enjoy global success with collaboration beers

A brewer at his work
© Christian Schranner / Braupakt

Given the growing popularity of unusual craft beers, more and more brewers are working together despite living in different countries. They are developing very exciting collaboration beers all over the world.

Scott Jennings, Head Brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., has to be one of the busiest beer wizards in the US. Just recently, this creative Californian jetted off across the Pacific for yet another beer project, this time leaving his mark in Bavaria. Jennings went there to brew a beer with the world’s oldest brewery, the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan. This transatlantic collaboration beer is a fruity wheat beer made with Braupakt yeast. The brewing companions flavored the 6% beer with Weihenstephan yeast and the hops varieties Hallertauer Tradition, Chinook, and Amarillo and allowed it to mature for several weeks. The creative wheat beer is currently being exported to 32 different countries, making it a prime example of international cooperation in the beverage industry.

Brewers are attracting global attention with their collaboration beers

These “collabs” are the hottest trend on the global beer scene right now. Most of the time, collaboration beers are made by two brewers from different breweries in different countries who come together to play around with unusual recipes. The point of this kind of collaboration is for the brewers to pool their know-how and make a name for themselves in the other country. At least that’s why Dario Stieren and his team from Munich Brew Mafia traveled from Munich a few weeks ago to Ajdovščina, a small town in Slovenia close to the Italian border near Trieste. Once there, the Bavarian produced a 6.2% bright red beer with hibiscus flowers with the help of the creative Slovenian brewery Pivovarna Pelicon and true hops artists from Varionica Craft Brewery, which is based in Zagreb. “I can finally also brew some exciting beers outside of Germany without the constraints of the German Beer Purity Law,” the Munich-based craft beer producer gushes.

Simon Siemsglüss from the Buddelship brewery in Hamburg also enjoys creating hip beers with other brewers based abroad. In the past, he’s collaborated with the renowned Norwegian brewery Lervig, and just last year he also developed Jam Session, a strong saison beer with a 9.2% alcohol content, after pairing up with Cerveses La Pirata from Catalonia. As a special touch, Siemsglüss and his Spanish counterparts rounded out the process by letting the brew sit in a Chardonnay barrel for several months. The result is a full-bodied beer with strong yeast notes, a subtle malty sweetness, woody tones and hints of wine.

Germany goes global

The Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, the Munich Brew Mafia and Buddelship aren’t the only ones collaborating. An increasing number of German brewers are now taking the plunge and developing collaboration beers with international partners. For example, the Welde brewery in Plankstadt near Heidelberg has produced a bottom-fermented rye beer with the Dutch brewery Jopen, and Yankee & Kraut from Ingolstadt created a 3.6% session IPA with coffee beans in partnership with Bierol from Tyrol. Meanwhile, Alexander Himburg from Braukunstkeller in Berlin is currently working on a project with brewers from Poland’s AleBrowar.

The world of brewing is full of these kinds of exciting collaboration beers. Maisel & Friends in Bayreuth started a rather unusual project three years ago, and recently launched the third edition of their Hopfenreiter. Several brewers from around the world contribute “green gold” for the strong India Pale Ale every year. This year’s version includes Citra hops from the producers at Mikkeller in Denmark, aromatic Styrian Golding hops from Duvel in Belgium, and fruity Styrian Fox hops from Bevog in Austria. Other aromatic hops varieties also came from German brewers such as Frau Gruber in Augsburg, Superfreunde in Berlin and of course the “host” company Maisel & Friends. The Bayreuth-based company is cultivating a philosophy with these projects – one that is being adopted more and more on the craft beer scene: “Creative brewing is the result of ideas and mutual inspiration.”

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).