CINCINNATI -- Who knew a beer collaboration could be so similar to a pro sports draft?
On Monday night at Rhinegeist Brewery, five teams were drafted to collaborate on beers for Cincinnati Beer Week, which runs June 19-25.
In the past all breweries have collaborated on one beer, which was then bottled and sold to the public. This year, there will be five beers, although still only one will be bottled.
“This was phenomenal,” said Jason Brewer, speaking for the Beer Week board. “Getting the work together is easy, but getting these artists in the same place at the same time was the challenge. Beer is our job, so every once in a while we need to be reminded it’s fun, and nights like this are a great reminder.”
Once teams were formed, participating local breweries then competed for a draft order for ingredients.
Teams drafted Fantasy Football-style for styles, hops, malts and a local ingredient. The collaborative beers will be brewed at the home of the pre-selected “captains”: Mt. Carmel, Blank Slate, Listermann – which will brew the beer that will be bottled – Braxton and Ei8ht Ball. All five beers will be available on draft throughout the city during Beer Week.
Mt. Carmel’s team (50 West, Cellar Dweller and Fibonacci) selected IPA first overall for its style and ended up with fruit as the ingredient, Pacific Northwest hops and crystal malt.
Mt. Carmel brewer Chris Siegman, who served as team captain, revealed his team had a plan.
“Our thought was, you might as well get fruit, which is what we wanted, a fruit IPA,” he said. “Imagine how good that’s going to be when it’s released in summer.”
The team waited until its last pick to get hops, which appeared counterintuitive but was intentional. “Any of the hops on the board would have worked well,” Siegman said.
Blank Slate and team members Rhinegeist, Bad Tom Smith and Taft’s Ale House will make a Saison with peppers.
“It’s going to be great,” said captain Scott LaFollette of Blank Slate. “We thought very hard about it. I love making chili pepper beers, and here we get to use any pepper we want – and we will.”
Listermann will bottle an amber and incorporate wood into its recipe, a choice captain Patrick Gilroy of Listermann said gave his team (MadTree, Urban Artifact and Dogberry) many options for the bottled offering. It was the only team not to choose the style first, opting instead for New Zealand hops.
“Doing an amber gives us a nice canvas, and the New Zealand hops are interesting on their own,” he said. "They’re relatively new in the United States market. Sometimes they are earthy, sometimes fruity.”
Braxton, partnering with Rivertown, Rock Bottom and Paradise Brewing, will make a pilsner or lager and include some kind of vegetable.
“I think we have a great team behind us, and with our equipment and our team’s ability to do lagers, it will blow the Cincinnati craft beer scene away,” said captain Evan Rouse of Braxton.
Ei8ht Ball was joined by Christian Moerlein, Old Firehouse, Tap and Screw and Mash Cult, and it will collaborate on a Belgian-style beer using flowers as an ingredient and Citra hops.
“Citra is a very popular hop,” said captain Mitch Daugherty of Ei8ht Ball. “And a Belgian style has a wide array of things you can do with it.”
While there is no official contest as to which of the five beers is best, it was clear that a friendly competition is underway.
That’s good news: In a competition amongst brewers, beer drinkers always win.