John McClane drops Hans Gruber off the top of Nakatomi Plaza, U2 charmed our hearts and won a grammy, and gas was 91¢ a gallon. The year is 1988, and America had just begun to feel good about itself again. But more importantly to this blog, Craft Beer was very much in an infant stage compared to where it is now. We all know craft beer is relatively new, but in 1988 it was looking kinda rough out there. Sure, Anchor Brewing had begun a little revival of sorts, Sierra Nevada had been around for 8 years and the almighty GABF was just 6 years old (and featured less than 150 breweries). But nationwide, the thought of beer as anything other than fizzy-yellow blah was preposterous.
Up until the early-1980s the popular image of beer in America was simply that of a mass-produced commodity with little or no character, tradition or culture worth mentioning. The 1980s marked the decade of the microbrewing pioneers. In a time when industry experts flat out refused to recognize their existence as anything serious, the pioneering companies emerged with their passion and a vision, serving their local communities a taste of full flavored beer and old world European traditions; all with what was to become a uniquely American character. Through extraordinarily difficult market conditions, the microbreweries and brewpubs of the 1980s struggled to establish the foundation for what was to become the proliferation of craft beer in America.
–From The Brewers Association, “History of Craft Brewing”
In 1988, a couple of small-time local breweries were started that, in the future, would become some of the larger players in American Craft Brewing. Little guys like Goose Island, Rogue, Great Lakes Brewing, North Coast Brewing, and Deschutes Brewing. You may have heard about them.
Back in December, Deschutes announced that in honor of the 25th anniversary of these breweries, they would collaborate with each brewer to come up with a special collaborative beer recipe to celebrate. Each of the breweries participating in the project will brew its own version of the recipe they collaboratively come with. The respective beers will have a common heritage and ingredients with the brewers working together to brew the beer that will ultimately end up in your glass.
Gary Fish, owner and founder of Deschutes Brewery said, “I’m very excited about all the Class of ’88 offerings. I have known personally most all of the principals involved with these breweries for a long time and each them has made substantial and substantive contributions to the world of craft beer in their 25 year history. Although these companies have taken different paths, all have distinguished themselves through the beers they produce and the way they have taken care of their communities and their brands.”
Story: In the same year these breweries were born, renowned beer connoisseur Fred Eckhardt published The Essentials of Beer Style which included a barley wine style guideline which will provide the basis for this collaboration. All three versions of the barley wines that will result from this unique collaboration will be packaged in 22-ounce and 750 ml bottles, plus draft.
Brewery Partner: Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH)
Beer Style: Smoked Imperial Porter
Planned Release Date: May 2013
Story: Building on a history of great porters – Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald and Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter – this Smoked Imperial Porter promises to be exceptional. Both beer versions will be available for a limited time in 22-ounce bottles and draft.
Brewery Partner: Goose Island Beer Company (Chicago, IL)
Beer Style: Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale
Planned Release Date: Q4 2013
Story: Brewers and owners are still working out the details on this beer, which they plan to brew with Riesling juice and Pinot Noir grapes. It will be aged in barrels that previously held Muscat wine in them for 10 years. Again, each brewery will produce its own version of the brew in bottles and draft.
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