Collaboration beers are hot right now. It seems like I can find a handful of them at each of my local beer shops. Breweries large and small are teaming up to brew some unique, interesting, and often delicious beers.
The idea of two (or more) brewers coming together to create something new isn’t reserved for big, well-distributed brands either. About a year ago Greenport Harbor Brewing and Southampton Publick House brewed a Strong Ryland Pale Ale together and more recently Blind Bat Brewery and Long Ireland Beer Company brewed a saison together.
Today, I’m excited to announce a different kind of beer collaboration — one between a media outlet and Blind Bat Brewery. I’ve known owner and brewmaster Paul Dlugokencky since before he even created Blind Bat in 2008 and we share a mutual admiration for and dedication to local food, wine and beer. It’s been inspiring to watch Paul create and launch his brand — literally from his garage — and when I approached with some beer ideas — many of which would include locally grown products — he was enthusiastic about collaborating, saying “Lenn doesn’t just have a discerning palate, he also happens to be a talented and creative home cook. Many of us know that some of the best meals are created at home, and craft brewing beer has a lot in common with creative cooking. I’m really looking forward to working with Lenn on some new, fun ideas.”
Brewing with local ingredients isn’t anything new to Paul. His Long Island Potato Stout has always been brewed with local, organic potatoes, and the Long Island Oyster Stout is brewed with — you guessed it — local oysters. In fact, Paul has a “Farm and Garden Series” of beers that will continue to grow over time — made possible in part by his wife Regina, who is the farmer and CSA manager at Fox Hollow Farm in Huntington, NY.
In mid-2010, Paul expanded his brewing operation, moving from a 10-gallon system to a 3-barrel one (93 gallons per batch). The Blind Bat-NYCR beers will be brewed on the older system, nicknamed “Bertha.”
At this point, I don’t think either one of us is sure exactly where the “Bertha Series” will take us, but we do have our first beer planned — a well-hopped IPA with Southeast Asian flavors that we will call ThaIPA. Regina is growing the organic Thai basil for us right now and we hope to brew a number of batches. Depending on how the beer is received, we might eventually brew some on the larger 3-barrel system (nicknamed “Betty”).
Not surprisingly — especially not if you consider that Paul was a home winemaker before turning to brewing — many of our other beer ideas relate to wine in some way. Barrel aging beer in wine barrel is the obvious route, so obvious in fact that it holds little interest for us, but we have discussed using some locally grown grapes to create a beer-wine hybrid in the fall. With so many beer styles and different grapes available, there are many possible combinations.
We should have our first brew day schedule soon — so look for more on this unique project in coming weeks.