Elysian Brewing and New Belgium Brewing cut palms and shook hands. In other words, the two have entered into an agreement to work collaboratively. The first collabeerative effort (see note below) is a Belgian-style triple/IPA hybrid called The Trip. It was recently brewed at Elysian’s Capitol Hill brewhouse and is scheduled for a late February release. It will only be available as a draught beer and you can expect to see it pouring at the area’s finer beer retailers. It will of course be available at all three Elysian locations.
New Belgium Brewing is now a legal brewer in the State of Washington, operating within the Elysian Capitol Hill brewery. This doesn’t mean that Elysian has merged with, been absorbed by, or acquired New Belgium. It just means that they are working together to make great beer. Weird, I know, but in a good way.
We first learned about this collaborative brewing idea from Dick Cantwell and Dave Buhler while sampling Elysian’s product at Tangletown last summer. The idea was just coming to life back then. Cantwell (Elysian’s brewmaster and more) explained that by working together, breweries like New Belgium and Elysian both stand to benefit. New Belgium gets to make beer here, and Elysian gets to make beer there. There’s a lot more to it than that, and there are a lot of possibilities for brewers of all sizes to work collaboratively, but that’s the simplest example of how it works.
The business of beer often interferes with the craft of beer. For example, the desire to grow and expand into new markets often spawns messy mergers, acquisitions and other ugly business stuff that has nothing to do with making beer. In the world of beer, it is often the business stuff that predicates the ruin of an otherwise smart and sassy brewery. Typically, brewers are not bean counters or tycoons.
Collabeeration is all about breweries, large and small, working with each other instead of against each other. It’s about working as a community with one common goal: make more and better beer. Everyone in the industry -including us consumers- benefits when there is a vibrant, healthy brewing industry like the one we enjoy here in Washington.
As Washington beer lovers, should we be excited about New Belgium becoming a Washington brewery? Well, they treat their employees very well and the brewery in Fort Collins, CO is a monument to environmentally responsible engineering, so what’s not to like about New Belgium? They should fit right in. Oh, and the beer is good too.
NOTE – In response to a reader comment on this post, we asked the fellas at Elysian for clarification. Here’s what Dave Buhler told us: “The Trip is the first official collabeeration brewed under New Belgium’s license. The Wout and Idefix were brewed as Elysian beers but The Wout is Peter Bouckaert’s recipe and Idefix was brewed jointly by Peter, Grady (New Belgium Brewer) and Dick with A Brett slurry Peter brought from NB.”