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Back-To-Back Collaborations

Tue, 05/03/2011 - 11:30am

I'm in Chico, California participating in back-to-back brews with some of my greatest friends in the beer world this week. Dogfish and Sierra Nevada will be releasing a much bigger batch of Life & Limb later this summer (once again, all sales and distribution for L&L will come through Sierra). "Life" stands for the fact that we use birch syrup and live yeast cells to naturally carbonate each bottle of this big brown ale. And "Limb" stands for the two trees whose syrups are used in the beers construction: maple syrup added during the boil and birch syrup dosed in downstream for bottle-conditioning. The "Limb" also stands for the bi-costal familial component in the beer as some the maple syrup in this beer comes from my family farm in Massachusetts and some the barley and hops in it come from the Grossman's family farm here in Chico. Below is a photo of Ken cutting a chunk from the limb of a tree on his farm that will be one of our tap handles for this beer. We took turns cutting and sipping on a bottle of Life & Limb with the assistance of Ken's son Brian and Brian's girlfriend Gina. I'm sure it's true that you should never mix the operation of heavy machinery with beer-drinking but nobody said anything about a hand-saw.



Above we're adding some of the Massachusetts Maple syrup to the beautiful 100 barrel copper boil kettle at Sierra. Ken and I did the easy jobs while the talented Sierra brewing team prepped and brewed the multiple batches of this recipe that will be fermented and combined prior to packaging in the coming months. Walking around this facility is always a mind-blowing privilege. Sierra is truly a brewer's brewery. Every cent spent on this facility is spent with love and care for the beer itself and the community in/by which it's made. Sierra now has a nice walking trail onsite so anyone can tour the perimeter of the facility after lunch or dinner at the pub and walk off a couple pints of pale or Kellerweiss while checking out what they have built here. Life & Limb is brewed with over 20 pounds of pure maple syrup per barrel, a significant five figure investment in just one of this beer's ingredients. And don't even get us started on the cost of birch syrup per ounce. But this beer is a labor of love so it's worth it. Life & Limb was designed to age with the best of 'em with the hopes that someday in the distant future one of Ken's children can share a bottle of the first batch with my son Sammy or daughter Grier while they are manning our booths at GABF 2025 or at Life & Limb brewday 2030 and they can toast the first generation of brewers in our families. In 2030 I'm pretty sure Mariah and I will be living la vida sofa at a sweet retirement community on the moon blending Aprihop into our morning prune juice.

Today we do the second project here in Chico which is a collaboration with some of my favorite brewers. We met last night over pints and dinner to chat about the recipe. Starting on the left and moving clockwise you see Adam Avery, Jason Perkins, Rob Tod, Tomme Arthur, Floris Delee, and Joe Whitney.


We haven't announced what this small-batch beer will be yet but the test batch is tasting righteous and the recipe was built around ingredients that come from each breweries geographic terroir. Mad props to ScottJennings who oversees Sierra's R & D brewery and has effectively herded these cats and our brewing ideas. Tonight we all co-host with Ken an epic five-course beer dinner that is a fund-raiser for the local Trappist Abbey Sierra has collaborated on the beer Ovila with.


Here's a sneak peek at some of the ingredients we're using on this second collaborative brew: