For craft brewers, collaboration is more common than competition. In an industry in which the prevailing attitude is "the rising tide raises all ships," the drive to create with and learn from other brewers has lead to some memorable brews.
In the lead-up to this year's L.A. Beer Week, several local breweries found time in their brew schedules to team up with breweries from Oregon to San Diego (and sometimes with brewers just down the street). Many of the finished creations were unveiled at last weekend's L.A. Beer Week kickoff festival. Many of these brews were created in small batches, so you'll need to act quickly to score your own taste, but they're worth the trouble.
Three Weavers + 21st Amendment: We Saw Them Coming Watermelon Saison
Three Weavers has compiled a long list of collaborative brews since opening in 2014, and to celebrate the introduction of San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery to the L.A. area, the Inglewood brewery cooked up a farmhouse ale that references one of 21st Amendment's most popular brews: Hell or High Watermelon. We Saw Them Coming uses fresh watermelon to add an interesting bite to the refreshing ale, and at the L.A. Beer Week kickoff festival, taster glasses of the strange brew were garnished with a mini wedge of melon.
Three Weavers also introduced a beer in collaboration with the soon-to-open Arts District Brewing, and Return of Sassy is a pungent rye-based IPA with a resinous and tropical aroma. Visit the Three Weavers tasting room for your best chance to get a taste of these collaborations. 1031 W. Manchester Blvd., Unit A, Inglewood.
Beachwood Brewing + Figueroa Mountain: Dort Knox
Brewed at Fig Mountain's Santa Barbara brewery with Beachwood brewmaster Julian Shrago, Dort Knox is a restrained take on the German export lager style (also known as a Dortmunder) — a style that's about subtlety and balance over big flavors. The clean lager has a medium body and a dry and delicately bitter finish that displays a remarkable parity between the crackery malt flavors and floral hop notes. Keep an eye on the Beachwood BBQ taplist for a taste, or take the drive to the Santa Barbara Taproom (Figueroa Mountain also plans to open a Westlake Village outpost this summer).
Beachwood Brewing also continues the tradition of collaborating with Drake's Brewing for an L.A. Beer Week brew (and giving the brew a "Star Trek"-themed name), and this year the hop-heads at the two breweries have create a hybrid IPA/saison that features a bitter blast of European hops. Pavel Czechop is available at Beachwood BBQ now. Beachwood BBQ, 131 ½ Main St., Seal Beach; Beachwood Brewing and BBQ, 210 E. 3rd St., Long Beach.
El Segundo Brewing Co. + Cascade Brewing: Perfect Strangers
El Segundo Brewing has become of the most lauded IPA breweries in Los Angeles; Cascade Brewing in Oregon is considered one of the best sour beer producers in America. The two disparate breweries joining forces on a beer seems like there'd be all clash and no compliment, but Perfect Strangers managed to transcend the hype that surrounded the release to become one of the must-get pours during the Beer Week kickoff event.
Instead of a traditional collaborative brew, the beer is actually a blend of two existing brews: ESBC's Hammerland double IPA and Cascade's Shrieking Violet, a Belgian-style quadrupel aged with blueberries. The blended beer was dense and slightly tart with Hammerland's heavy bitterness tempered by the sweetness of the quad. This is an extremely small batch of beer, and if you want a taste you're going to have to visit the newly expanded El Segundo Brewing tasting room on Saturday for the ticketed release special event.
Cascade Brewing has also collaborated with Carson's Phantom Carriage brewery on another blended beer, which will be released on Thursday at the Taproom. El Segundo Brewing Co. Tasting Room, 140 Main St., El Segundo; Phantom Carriage, 18525 S. Main St., Carson.
Noble Ale Works + Monkish Brewing: We Saved Latin
Anaheim's Noble Ale Works makes a lot of different styles of beer, but brewmaster Evan Price focuses more on traditional English styles and the hop-bombs that have earned him a fervent following. He hasn't made many Belgian style brews. Monkish Brewing in Torrance has quietly become one of the Southland's premier crafters of subtle brews that feature the complex character of Belgian yeast strains, and especially the wild yeast known as brettanomyces.