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What's your take on beer collaborations?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by 19etz55, Feb 9, 2019.


Your collaboration experience?

This poll will close on May 9, 2019 at 1:54 AM.
  1. Exellent

  2. Very good

  3. Good

  4. Not so good

  5. Poor

  1. 19etz55

    19etz55 Aspirant (298) Aug 12, 2007 New Jersey

    I thought it was a great idea to put two quality breweries together and put out something special. Sorry to say for me I haven't had a really good collaboration brew to date. I've tried a decent amount of these over the years and thought the product was at best decent to pretty good. Not what you would expect from this idea of two inputs of great beer minds to make one really deserving beer to the craft beer public.

    What has been your experience?
  2. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,553) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Great idea for a thread @19etz55 !

    I'm going to come down solidly in the middle of the road. The overall idea of them seems to create buzz and a general sense of community, so that's a plus. But the beers themselves...nothing to write home about; and that's to be expected, because you can usually tell that they haven't undergone the recipe tweaking prior to release that makes the truly special beers stand out.

    GOBLIN Meyvn (1,362) Mar 3, 2013 Ohio
    Society Trader

    I totally agree with the exception of some of the Sierra Nevada collaborative efforts in recent years, those have been pretty fantastic.
  4. zid

    zid Savant (971) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    If anything, craft collaborations tend to be a bit lacking since they typically are quick sketches as opposed to a beer that’s been honed over time. Beyond that, most collaborations aren’t much different than any other beer. The only ones that feel really special are the ones that are excuses to brew something less commercial than a more standard offering.
  5. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,553) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Oh yeah, for sure. But I also get the sense that they're hardly taking a slapdash approach to the whole project.

    GOBLIN Meyvn (1,362) Mar 3, 2013 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Agreed . . . Wouldn't expect anything less.
    19etz55, GreenBayBA and TongoRad like this.
  7. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Disciple (327) Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I'm middle of the road too as @TongoRad had stated. They do create some suspense, but they are usually mediocre. I will say that a bunch of Central PA breweries did a tropical double IPA a couple years ago and that was fantastic!
  8. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,653) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    In general I have found the finished product to often be less than the sum of their parts. That being said, the SN Oktoberfest collaborations are amazing and some of the beer camp collaborations have been great. Im sure I could think of some more, but most have left me underwhelmed.
  9. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,397) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Almost word for word for what I would have replied. Underwhelming is a great descriptor in my frequent experiences.
  10. islay

    islay Aspirant (237) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    BeerAdvocate's top-rated "American IPA," Todd the Axe Man, is (or perhaps more accurately "originally was") a collaboration beer between Surly and Amager.
  11. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (305) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia

    Kind of like "sit ins" at concert/ festival, in theory you think band x is great, artist y is a great singer or guitar player too... but then it comes down to it and they just play Crossroads or Let It Be, unrehearsed and at half speed, and you're left thinking I'd rather see these guys or gals, back to back, not all at once.

    The beer collab equivalent is they drink a bunch of beer (and probably smoke a bunch of joints) and brew a slightly altered version of one of their beers, and throw a bunch of adjuncts in that they picked up when grabbing munchies at the grocery store.
    lucius10, jasonmason, LarryV and 4 others like this.
  12. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Aspirant (236) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    I find that good partner breweries usually produce good to very good collaborations. However, I find it rare that collaboration beers are as good as the best beers produced by the breweries on their own.
  13. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,285) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    Can't think of a collab that I liked, but for some reason I'd like to get my hands on some Oskar Blues/Cigar City Bamburana. But is it a collab if one brewery owns the other?
  14. 19etz55

    19etz55 Aspirant (298) Aug 12, 2007 New Jersey

  15. 19etz55

    19etz55 Aspirant (298) Aug 12, 2007 New Jersey

    I respect your response very much!
    TongoRad likes this.
  16. papposilenus

    papposilenus Meyvn (1,074) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire


    And what @TongoRad said, about it being supposed to create a buzz.
    19etz55, TongoRad and zid like this.
  17. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,746) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Mostly, I'm whelmed. Seems like few are terrible and few are awesome. Shrug.
  18. surfcaster

    surfcaster Crusader (755) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Society Trader


    A few are one offs that are rarely rivaled.

    The Alpine- New Belgium Super IPA remains a top 10 beer for me.

    The majority like the SN collab packs are a solid average but wonderful in their breadth and execution. Not sure why everything has got to be best ever. :rolling_eyes:
    19etz55 likes this.
  19. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,898) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    Most, not all, collaborations aren't that good. Not just beer but in anything. An individual vision executed properly always yields the best results.
    PapaGoose03, Bitterbill and 19etz55 like this.
  20. islay

    islay Aspirant (237) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Exactly. I've always said John Lennon and Paul McCartney brought out the worst in each other. Gimme "Temporary Secretary," baby!
  21. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,898) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    I wrote most, not all. Then you linked the worst song ever next to Imagine.
    tzieser, dcotom and islay like this.
  22. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,128) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    Most of the collaboration beers I’ve had have been very good and interesting, though occasionally not as good as certain beers from the individual breweries alone.
    19etz55 likes this.
  23. zid

    zid Savant (971) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Let me add to that -

    Unlike others, I'm never really disappointed in collaborations, but this is due to how I approach them. I never think: great brewer + great brewer = really great beer. Instead, I think: great brewer + great brewer = decent chances of good beer.

    The Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest collaborations mentioned in this thread tend to be much more interesting than your average collaboration. Whereas many collaborations just come across as interchangeable collaborative marketing on a 16oz can, the Sierra beers feel like a collaboration across cultures... and have more to give as a result.
  24. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (871) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I agree with @TangoRad. Collaborations are harmless but fun and maybe someone beside Sierra Nevada will hit a home run.
    Bitterbill, 19etz55 and TongoRad like this.
  25. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,435) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    I went with good, though I can't really think of any collabs I've had that have really blown me away and made me think "wow this is what a beer from these (however many) breweries should taste like." I just won't put any effort into getting collabs.

    I will say though, the Sierra Nevada ones might be the exception for me though. Especially the Oktoberfest.
    Bitterbill, 19etz55 and TongoRad like this.
  26. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (524) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I always look forward to the Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest collab. Beyond that. I'm not really looking for them too much.
    Bitterbill, 19etz55 and FBarber like this.
  27. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (305) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia

    That's sort of like when people complain about how someone's first two albums were great, and then they really fell off. Well yeah, they had their who life up to the first album to come up with the songs for the first album. The second album might have had some good tunes that didn't make album 1, or now that their making a living in music, have time to flesh out. By album 3 they're starting from zero since they've already used up everything they came up with from Age 0 to age "xx", whenever the second album came out. There are people who continue to make good albums, but that's why even good artists, run out of material by album 3 (and the money which makes them lazy).

    Does it surprise you the recipe they came up with in a matter of days, isn't as good as the recipes that they came up with over the course of their entire life? Those recipes must have been pretty good if they make it to the potential-collaborator stage in the first place. Being a good brewer is about making the same thing over and over, only rarely do people like the Evil Twin guy build a business on hundreds of recipes (and he's not really a brewer, he is more of a recipe artist).
    SierraNevallagash and 19etz55 like this.
  28. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,285) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    This is my general feeling as well. Those Oktoberfest collabs are amazing.
    Bitterbill, 19etz55 and GOBLIN like this.
  29. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (460) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    Waiting for a beer collab that goes like some album collabs: dismantled because of creative differences

    Middle of the road here
    19etz55 likes this.
  30. Coronaeus

    Coronaeus Champion (803) Apr 21, 2014 Ontario (Canada)

    I don’t know. How do you blame Lennon for Wings?
  31. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (1,718) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    Collabs to me are fun "what if?" beers that typically underwhelm the hype of seeing two good breweries on one label. Last collab I had was Boulevard #6 with FW, and while I had and loved all the base beers, the end result was a good but lesser product. I've learned to temper expectations on collaborations.
    19etz55 likes this.
  32. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,285) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    Couldn't think of a decent one, until remembered that I recently had a 2016 Deschutes/Hair Of The Dog Collage 2 and it was pretty decent. They basically combined some of their better beers of several dark styles;
    • Deschutes The Abyss (100% aged in Pinot barrels)
    • Deschutes The Stoic (100% aged in Pinot barrels)
    • Hair of the Dog Fred (aged in American oak and rye whiskey barrels)
    • Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws (100% aged in cognac barrels).
    I still preferred Abyss by itself
    #32 bbtkd, Feb 9, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  33. Jacobier10

    Jacobier10 Poo-Bah (2,008) Feb 23, 2004 New Jersey

    I originally voted for "Poor" but then changed my vote to "Not so good" when I remembered Sierra Nevada's Oktoberfest collaborations. They are probably the only collabs that I have really enjoyed, but even a couple of those (like the one with Mahrs) kind of missed the mark for me. Hill Farmstead's collab with Brasserie de Blaugies, La Vermontoise, is another good one that comes to mind. Most others I have had have been average at best.
    Bitterbill and 19etz55 like this.
  34. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,721) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

  35. BrewmanCapote

    BrewmanCapote Aspirant (251) Feb 3, 2013 Illinois

    @Prince Casual

    Even really good artists run out of material by album three?

    That's a very questionable take.
  36. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (687) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Best I’ve had by far , and wish it would get brewed again....

    More brown than black IPA

    That was a great beer.

    Most collabs are nothing amazing,paying for hype, large bottle format on many and just because they can charge more.

    19etz55 likes this.
  37. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (783) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    If you’d asked me this 5 years ago then generally speaking I would say below average.

    However these days there’s a new breed of collaboration which I think can often be tasty, but only because they tend to be between two breweries, both of which share the same narrow focus, making a slight variation of a beer/beers they make solo anyway
    19etz55 likes this.
  38. JayORear

    JayORear Meyvn (1,050) Feb 22, 2012 New York
    Society Trader

    Interestingly, the only two great collabs I've had (and would buy again) are collabs with Alvarado St, one with Other Half (Slice Joint) and one with Burgeon (can't remember the name). In nearly every other case (including two I tried this past weekend), the whole tends to be less than the sum of its parts.
    19etz55 likes this.
  39. jaxon53

    jaxon53 Meyvn (1,074) Mar 1, 2006 Connecticut

    I agree with you about Sierra Nevada, I love their Oktoberfest collaborations...
    GOBLIN, Bitterbill and 19etz55 like this.
  40. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (305) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia

    That's not what I meant, and I don't think that's what I said.

    *Many* artists have one hit, or one hit album, and they disappear., way more than artists who have several or dozens of hits. My point being they had their whole life to come up with that one album with 4 good tunes, or even just their one hit (wonder). Of course the good artists, who put in the work, and are skilled and talented, can write tons of great material.

    In the context of brewing collaboration, it would be like (in 1968) asking the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to show up to a studio, with no prior communication, and come up with a hit single in 8hrs. They both released hits in the last 3 months. They both will even record something great in the next 6 months. And the song they come up with *might* become a hit just because the radio plays it BECAUSE it's The Beatles + Rolling Stones, regardless of it's quality or not.

    In a collaboration beer they usually aren't doing a pilot run, they aren't tweaking the recipe when they scale up. They are probably doing it "in one take." It's an unfiltered look at how good the brewery is turning recipe into batch#1. It's not going to be as dialed in as something they've brewed dozens/ hundreds/ thousands of times. That's all I was getting at.