Monday, July 18, 2011

Black Belgian IPA, would you believe?

Another collaboration beer by South Jersey brewing neighbors Iron Hill and Flying Fish.

The previous one was a chocolate coffee stout, and this one isn't getting any lighter: Black Belgian IPA, a collision of styles that reflects a shared tongue-in-cheek nod from brewers Casey Hughes (Flying Fish) and Chris LaPierre (Iron Hill) to the trend of collaboration beers.

"I kinda like the idea of collaborations. It's always fun to brew with your friend, but I've always thought that they're more about marketing than anything else," Chris says. "I can't say that there are too many collaboration beers that I've had that I see they came up with something that either of the brewers wouldn't have come up with on their own.

"We both think they're kinda gimmicky, but we also think they're a lot of fun to do, which is why we're doing it. And because we think they're gimmicky, we decided to throw in every gimmick we could think of, and two of the big trends out there right now are black versions of beers that aren't usually black and Belgian versions of beers that aren't usually Belgian. So we thought we would do a Black Belgian IPA. And to make it even more trendy we're going to barrel age some of it."

But to be sure, the brew won't be all about parody.

Like last January's mashup of IH's Luca Brasi coffee stout and FF's Exit 13 chocolate stout, a collaboration borne more out of serendipity than actual planning (Chris was grabbing some yeast one day last fall at Flying Fish when Casey gave him a sample of Exit 13 that tasted like a natural fit with a coffee stout in Iron Hill's serving tanks) you can expect the results of the next crossover beer to put flavor ahead of gimmicks and trends.

There's just too much award-winning brewers' sense heading into it.

"We already know that Belgian yeast character works well with American hops. I do a few American-Belgos here; Casey won a gold medal with his American-Belgo (Exit 4). We also know that hops will work with black beers. We do a black IPA here that's very popular. Hops work with black beers and Belgian black beers work together, too. We're kinda combining all three of those, we know two of those things will work together and think three of them will together as well."

Unlike the chocolate-coffee stout collaboration, which was a firkin filled with a blend of beers that then got a little extra treatment (vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and Belgian yeast to prime it), the next brew will be designed from the ground up and will be full batch for Iron Hill's tanks (think 7 to 10 barrels).

The brew will be at least the second collaboration this year for IH: Chris did a saison with his girlfriend Suzanne Woods, of Sly Fox (although it wasn't a true Sly Fox collaboration) and third overall since opening in Maple Shade.

And it looks like this will be Flying Fish's third collaboration. Exit 6 Wallonian Rye, which came out a little over a year ago, was done with the folks at Stewart's Brewing in Delaware.

NOTE: The Black Belgian IPA gets brewed July 27th and will be released on Aug. 27th in conjunction with Iron Hill's IPA event. Chris has been been saving a quarter keg of every IPA he has made since about January and plans to tap eight of them that day, plus some FF Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA (a brew that debuted around March 2010).


Tom H said...

When will you be serving it?

Jeff Linkous said...

Got an update from Chris: Upshot is beer will be released Aug. 27 at an Iron Hill IPA event.