Cover photo courtesy of Rick Green
Craft beer is an industry that promotes collaboration. The collab beer approach is not new and is something that I’ve discussed in many of my past articles. However, breweries are teaming up to produce one-off or seasonal brews at an increasing rate, which makes it a very exciting time for craft beer drinkers (woohoo!). Most craft breweries seem to grasp that they’re stronger together than against one another. Ultimately, the entire craft beer industry is competing for the attention (and wallets) of beer drinkers who are constantly exposed to “big beer”.
It’s not easy for micro breweries to compete against multi-national beer companies. Quite often, big beer advertising budgets alone far exceed a craft brewery’s operating costs. Just imagine what Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad budget could do for a local brewery! Anyways, this level of collaboration that we’re seeing is a leap in the right direction; fostering cross-promotion of breweries on social channels, tap lists & shelves.
It’s common to see two or more B.C. breweries team up for a special release brew. We’re also seeing breweries from this province and across Canada team up with our neighbors south of the border as well. Look no farther than Parallel 49 Brewing’s Brews Brothers release from earlier this year.
What I wasn’t aware of though, is that our local breweries are starting to work with their counterparts overseas to create some really unique beers. Richard Ammerman from Jing-A Brewing Co. (located in Beijing, China) recently reached out to me about the 8×8 Brewing Project. In a nutshell, this project brings together eight breweries from Greater China (Mainland China + Taiwan + Hong Kong) and pairs each of them with a different brewery from overseas to collaborate on a recipe for a new brew. The result? Eight awesome beers that are then poured at the 8×8 Brewing Project Festival in early November.
2017 was the inaugural year for the project. According to Richard, the plan is to select a different region of the world each year to partner with; allowing the small but dynamic Chinese craft beer industry to build connections with brewers from areas with well-established craft beer scenes (ex. Portland, OR). It’s also a great opportunity to learn new brewing techniques and tricks. On the flipside, the brewers from the Project’s partner region get the opportunity to visit China for the 8×8 Festival to meet their partners and learn about China’s craft beer industry. This year, the partner region was the Pacific Northwest! Here’s the list of the brewery pairings:
Cloudburst Brewing (Seattle, WA) x Bubble Lab (Wuhan)
Gigantic Brewing Co. (Portland, OR) x Moonzen Brewery (Hong Kong)
Breakside Brewery (Portland, OR) x NBeer (Chengdu/Beijing)
10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend, OR) x Fat Fat Beer Horse (Xiamen)
Culmination Brewing (Portland, OR) x Master Gao (Nanjing)
The Commons Brewery (Portland, OR) x Taihu Brewing (Taipei)
Holy Mountain Brewing (Seattle. WA) x Jing-A Brewing Co. (Beijing)
Parallel 49 Brewing (Vancouver, BC) x TAPS (Shenzhen)
Parallel 49 Brewing was the only brewery representing BC, and Canada for that matter, for the 8×8 Brewing Project. REPRESENT! Although I wasn’t able to jump on a plane to attend the 8×8 Festival, I was fortunate enough to be invited down to P49’s recently renovated Street Kitchen to sample the test batch of their collaboration beer with TAPS. They actually had this beer on tap as one of their many options, so hopefully you stopped by to try it out!
Parallel 49 Brewing x TAPS Brewpub Sweet & Sour Nitro IPA
ABV: 6.0% | IBU: 15
Malts: Sup Pale, Oats, Cara-Pils
Hops: Denali, Equinox, Zythos
Where do I even start with this beer?! There’s a lot going on in this one. This kettle sour IPA pours a golden-yellow colour with a cascading head (thanks to the nitrogen infusion) that gives off a subtle sweet aroma. The nitro pour and lactose addition make for a smooth and creamy mouth-feel.
The first few sips of this beer were not overly tart or sweet. As the beer warmed up the sweet and sour notes definitely increased and brought out the full flavour profile. The finish was light to moderately bitter. If I wasn’t told beforehand that this was an IPA, I wouldn’t be able to identify it right away. The bitterness picked up about halfway through my glass which made the IPA label more obvious.
All in all, this was one of the more interesting beers that I’ve sampled to date. Lot’s of different aromas and flavours meshing together to create this collaboration beer. It would have been interesting to compare this test batch with the final recipe that was brewed at TAPS Brewpub in Shenzhen to see the slight tweaks that were made.
Thanks to Richard Ammerman from Jing-A Brewing Co. for contacting me about the 8×8 Brewing Project, and to the Parallel 49 team for inviting me down to try this awesome collab beer. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend the 8×8 Festival sometime in the future!
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