San Diego Beer Week is here, but a lot of us still can’t stop talking about Collabapalooza.
This third annual event brought together more than 40 San Diego brewing companies who crafted more than 100 different unique batches. Voted Best Beer Event of 2017 and 2018 by West Coaster Magazine, Collabapalooza celebrates the spirit of independent beer made in San Diego in a big way.
Some of the Collabapalooza beers to write home about included a Karl Strauss collaboration with Thorn Beer that can turn even the nastiest of glitter naysayers sparkly, a pastry sour made to taste like strawberry cheesecake and a lot of beers fermented with the traditional Norwegian kveik yeast strain. It was lovely to meet Countess Sparkula. She’s an Imperial Breakfast Stout that weighs in at 11.7 percent ABV. This decadent breakfast-pastry beer mirrors the flavors of Count Chocula cereal. Doug Pominville, Thorn Barrio Logan’s Head Brewer, explained of Thorn and KARL:
“We both decided that it would be a perfect beer for Karl Strauss’ Collabapalooza with the timing of the cereal’s seasonal availability. The result is a velvety milk chocolate beer with complimentary coffee roast, magic and nostalgia. We also put glitter in the beer because brewing beer should be fun, and everyone needs a little wonder and magic in their lives.”
Let’s move on to the Pink Boots and Wild Barrel collaboration, a Strawberry Cheesecake Imperial Pastry Sour with 8.8 percent ABV. Made with strawberry, lactose and vanilla beans, this cheesecake-inspired kettle sour has red wheat in the mash to simulate graham cracker crust.
Duck Foot Brewing, an all gluten-free brewery distributed by Karl Strauss Distributing, brewed a Scottish Wee Heavy with Deft Brewing that was hopped with Fuggle hops and fermented with Kveik yeast. “This will be a first for both of us [other than some very small scale brews], so we’ve been looking forward to seeing what ester-y yeast can do for this beer,” said Matt Del Vecchio, the founder at Duck Foot.
Several other beers at Collabapalooza were crafted with kveik yeast — not surprising that brewers took the chance to make one-off beers with this trendy, fast-fermenting strain.
“Collabapalooza yields a lot of out-there, experimental beers because… why not?” said Paul Segura, Karl Strauss’ brewmaster of research and development.
The bell of this kveik ball was the Karl Strauss and AleSmith collaboration, Blink of an IPA. Brewed with Simcoe, Citra, Ekuanot, El Dorado and BRU-1 experimental hops, this IPA is light, bright and citrus-y. And lucky for non-Collabapalooza goers, it’s still on tap at Karl Strauss’ brewpubs and in cans across California.
Many of the beers poured at Collabapalooza are still available at the respective breweries across San Diego. Some of them are even making their way into San Diego Beer Week celebrations. This nearly two-week celebration of all things craft beer in “America’s Finest City” begins November 1 and lasts through November 10. Unequivocally, the spirit of indie beer is San Diego is alive and well.