Collaboration is sometimes a maligned word in beer. Often the repository for ideas too bold and brave for regular sales, they can be hit and miss at best depending on brewer’s ambitions, resources, and abilities. But when approached carefully, these adventures in collaboration can be some of the most rewarding experiences. Learning other’s limitations, their point of view on brewing, and coming together with friends to make beer are now integral parts of this industry.
Our history with collaboration is a somewhat particular because of two of our defining characteristics: we’re small and we’re a saison/funky/Belgian-inspired brewery. This means when folks drop by to brew with us, the experience of brewing is similar to using their own pilot systems. It also means, however, they get to play with yeast and fermentables that they don’t often inflict on their brewhouses. It has been a lot of fun seeing how other brewers join with us to brew farmhouse ales.
Our first collaboration was honestly a dry run of the whole process. Could we be affable for a whole day with a guest in house?! Newfoundland homebrewer Chad Levesque was visiting Toronto so we decided to use him as a guinea pig. We brewed a hoppy saison and called it “Kitchen Party” since we were a bunch of Newfoundlanders brewing in the kitchen at the time. It has since grown, been introduced to brettanomyces (brett), and has become one of our main beers: Imposter Syndrome.
The legendary George Eagleson of Stone Hammer was our first pro-brewer collaboration and we decided to play with a light springtime wheat saison using Galaxy hops. After some fun brew day discussions about the Readymade art movement and interesting brewery urinals, we called the beer “Galactic Fountain.”
George was followed quickly by Eric from Liberty Village who wanted to take a more experimental approach. We had Luis (co-owner and chef!) smoke up some wheat malt over applewood to create “Fume,” our smoked saison. We love the idea of smoke, so look for another smoked saison over the winter.
Jeff and the crew from Indie Alehouse were next. In what seemed like a whirlwind of excitement, we went from having drinks with them on a Friday night to brewing with them early the next Monday morning. We produced one big batch of wort (for us at least!) and split it three ways. One using our saison yeast, another using their witbier yeast, and a final one using a blend of our saison yeast and a brett blend from Indie. In the end we blended the saison and wit-fermented beers and dry hopped them with a fun newer hop called Jarrylo (we called the beer “Jarilo” after the Slavic god of the springtime) while we left the brett-fermented ale alone to be the stately farmhouse ale “Morana” (Jarilo’s twin sister and wife).
The hustle of the summertime and brewery construction stymied our collaborations a little, but soon enough we were back at it brewing with homebrewers. For one of our Cask Days beers, we brewed a Farmhouse Bitter with GTA Brews homebrew club. We also paired up with some more awesome homebrewers for a couple of beers that will be featured at the People’s Pint event that is being held at Lansdowne, November 15th.
Speaking of Lansdowne, our most recently tapped beer, “We’ve Already Got One,” is a true experimental collaboration. Jeremy dropped by with a sack of elderberries and we fermented a fun, funky saison with Escarpment Lab’s “Fruit Bomb” saison blend. It is, at the time of writing, on tap at Lansdowne and will be at Folly very shortly too.
And, finally, speaking of Escarpment Labs, we worked with them to create Escarpment #1 and #2. Both were lighter farmhouse ales playing with different saison yeasts and brett blends. Escarpment Labs is also our next collaboration, as these folks plan to drop by this week with a 100% Ontario Brett strain that we’re going to use to ferment a hoppy farmhouse ale.
We hope to make collaborations a continuing part of our project here at Folly and we’ve got a number of brewers who we’re looking forward to working with in the coming months. Amateur and professional brewers bring cool ideas to the table, which allows everyone to enjoy new and exciting brews.
Chris and Christina – Brewers at Folly Brewpub