Monday, 19 November 2012

Greater than the sum

Much like the Power Rangers, when a group of brewers get together with a mission in mind, what they produce can be greater than the sum of their parts.

We have recently come across some great examples of inter-brewery collaboration that highlight this. The first of these was the annual Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight which took place back in September to celebrate the Kent hop harvest. More than twenty Kent breweries brewed special beers from fresh green hops, picked only hours before. These beers were then available for two weeks in pubs all over Kent. We popped along to the launch at the Canterbury food and drink festival - the only place where all the beers were available at once. This is where I felt the joy in this collaboration. With all the casks up against the back of the tent and the brewers who crafted them dishing them out to thirsty punters.

The different breweries obviously relished the challenge of brewing with the green hops. There were a wide range of beer styles on offer - from saison to cask lager - and each showed off the fresh and fragrant character of the green hops. The key here was that all these breweries were working together for the common goal and it was so successful that it looked like the beer wouldn't last the whole two weeks in the pub. Look out for bottled examples of these beers which may still be available.

The second look at collaboration is in a very different form. London Brick is a Red Rye Ale that has been brewed by The Kernel, Redemption, Zerodegrees, Dark Star, Phil Lowry, Brodies and probably a few more. Some of these breweries are part of the London Brewers' Alliance which was set up to celebrate and promote the resurgence in London brewing.

London Brick : Appropriately named!

The beer itself is a stunner. It grabs your attention with it's bright red muddy colour, it's intriguing to say the least. But it's the aroma of sweet tangerines and tropical fruits from the Simcoe that invites you to drink. This is the closest to a tropical island that you will get to in London. The heavy use of rye in the malt bill give a nicely sweet and full body which means this is a full, satisfying drink rather than a refreshing drier hop bomb style.

The last collaboration is one we came across in our last visit to Brussels. Horal's Mega Blend is an Oude Gueuze created by Horal, the High Council for Artisinal Lambic Beers and organisers of the annual Tour De Gueuze. Gueuze is created by blending spontaneously fermented lambic beer of different ages. In this case Horal have blended together lambics from eight breweries. Somehow what comes out is a well structured gueuze that gives you everything you could want in the way of citrus sourness and a heady funk. It is a refreshing and engaging beer but perhaps needs a year longer in the bottle. It would be impossible to pick out characters from all the breweries but this delicious beer is a symbol of the continuing resurgence of this traditional style of beer.

The brewery names on this label are enough to make a lambic lover weep with joy.
These collaborations are about more than the beer itself. They are important missions to celebrate and promote brewing innovations and traditions.

The Kent Green Hop Fortnight promotes the use of our excellent native hops.

The London Brewers Alliance celebrates the phenomenal quality of breweries in the captial.

Horal's Mega Blend helps to keep alive this most important of traditional beer styles.

The Kent Green Hop Beers are no longer available but look out for them next year. London Brick and Horal's Mega Blend are available from

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