Luckily, great minds don’t think alike. Take a good collaboration beer, for instance. The best collabs involve talented brewers embedded in unique brewing cultures. They have equal amounts of intelligence, instinct and imagination, but their brewing and branding philosophies are distinct, thus creating a beer that could not exist without the uniqueness of each party. A good example of this just came out: Stone Brewing Co. announced its first collaboration beer with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Stone Brewing and Sierra Nevada are both from California, but the similarities stop there. The elder craft staple of Sierra Nevada brews approachable and popular craft brands whose flavors are as large as the granite peaks of its namesake (its Pale Ale being one of the top craft brands in the market). On the other hand, the younger Stone Brewing has an ideology that could be categorized as adventurous arrogance — a belief that its bold, out-of-the-box and even obtuse West Coast-style beers (like Arrogant Bastard) are simply better than all the others (which is usually true).
What would a beer be like from these powerhouses that combine for 50-plus years of brewing experience?
It’s called Stone & Sierra Nevada NxS IPA (NxS = North by South). It’s a barrel-aged IPA blended with a fresh, dry-hopped batch of the same IPA, and it will begin rolling out in 22-ounce bottles and on draft to select retailers in markets wherever Stone beer is sold.
“Since Sierra Nevada Brewing has been an inspiration for Stone, and me personally, for our entire brewing careers, we were thrilled to be asked to brew a beer with one of the most admired craft brewers in the world,” explained Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele. “When brainstorming this collaborative recipe, there was no doubt that we should brew a memorable IPA and we wanted to combine unique elements from each brewer. For Stone, that meant barrel-aging a portion of the beer at our barrel warehouse.”
Guess who wanted to use cascade hops and guess who wanted to barrel age the collaboration? Watch the video below for answers.
How was it made?
To create this collab, batches of an IPA were brewed and bittered with Magnum hops before providing the backdrop for a three-way late-kettle addition involving Amarillo, Chinook and Cascade. Given that whole flower Cascade hops have been a mainstay in Sierra Nevada’s beer portfolio, the classic hop varietal was necessary for this creation. The first batch, created months earlier, was split down the middle, with 50 percent being aged in gin-infused bourbon barrels and the other half making its way into rye whiskey barrels. The aged portions were then blended with a new, fresh batch of IPA, which was generously dry-hopped to impart rich hop aromas to accompany the citrusy, piney, woody, spice flavors of this multilayered collaboration.
How should you drink it?
To experience the extra dose of hops blended with oak and spirit flavors, the beer should be enjoyed fresh. Over time, the hop qualities will subside, allowing for more prevalent spicy notes of spirits and oaky vanilla character to shine through. Stone and Sierra Nevada NxS IPA is a meaningful representation of two renowned breweries embracing craft beer camaraderie and showcasing their brewing prowess.