Tis the season ..for collaboration!
Last week I, and the rest of Ottawa, was invited to Big Rig Brewery to sample and celebrate the collaboration brew between Big Rig's brewmaster, Lon Ladell and D'Arcy McGee's GM/Prud'homme Beer Certification facilitator, Jeff O'Reilly.
So what is a collaboration brew? Is it when a few brewmaster's get together, get drunk, and start tossing ingredients in the brew pot? Well, maybe.. But, in most cases it's when a brewmaster, homebrewer, beer enthusiast visits a brewery and helps brew a very unique beer. The visiting collaborator could have varying levels of involvement; from helping with recipe development to sourcing hard-to-find ingredients and joining in on a lengthy brew day. Or they could just say they like X style and lend their name to the beer (these rarely turn out well). Whichever case, the best collaborations are done with three things in mind - sharing knowledge, growing a friendship and marketing a fun new beer.
For Lon and Jeff's collaboration, a very Christmas-y Gingerbread Porter, it was Jeff who was on the learning end of Lon's wide experience with brewing. He took Jeff's fun, but crazy, ideas and translated them into brewing ingredients and techniques that could produce the warming flavours of the holiday season. Lon couldn't contain all of Jeff's ideas though and we were treated to a Gingerbread Porter cask that resembled a cocktail with Kahlua, cherry brandy, crème de menthe and Goldschläger - something I want him to repeat.
If you need a shopping break, or something to help ease you back into the Christmas spirit I recommend grabbing a pint of Gingerbread Porter. Although it may not really be to the style of a porter and it will be served too cold (let it sit!), the rich flavours of molasses, ginger and cinnamon are "to the style of Christmas", as Lon put it.