Cold Comfort and Collaborations: Ilkley’s Siberia/Revolutions E.P
At the heart of brewing, it seems, lies collaboration. Chris has mused on it over in his excellent piece on The International Arms Race, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently, too. Obviously I’m biased, but is there any other industry that actively encourages such behaviour between brewers? Essentially, brewers are business rivals, but collaboration is truly win-win for all involved.
New audiences can be cross-pollinated. Techniques, expertise, raw materials can be shared. Not only that, but the shackles come off; collaborate and all of a sudden the ethos of each brewery involved can be shaken off, the creative aspect of brewing comes to the fore, and you can spread your wings. People often forget that brewing is a commercial venture – and although brewing a full brewlength of Borage-Mugwort Black IPA might not be feasible all the time, do it once a year on a smaller scale and get someone else in to help share the load and it becomes…well, fun. And we all like to have fun, right? Right?
Collaborations appeal to the inner ticker (or, if you like geek) in the beer drinker as it’s a one-off, a new taste, something unique. Not always bottled; you have to go to somewhere to try it. Make a trip especially; in this day and age, this can only be a good thing.
Ilkley are very good at this. Not only incredibly inclusive as a brewer – they are constantly out and about sponsoring events, supporting homebrewers, hosting tastings and tours – they will happily open their doors and involve others where possible. Involving Pete Brown and Melissa Cole in the beers that launched their Origins range made complete sense; even better that the beers involved were actually excellent. The risk you run of a lot of your casual drinkers now knowing (or caring) who the collaborators are is negated as long as the beer is good.
Weighing in at 5.9% abv, this amber-hued gem boasts a nose of wheaten cereal but finished off with tart, sharp fruit. The Rhubarb lends a juicy, sour/sweet streak and a eye-poppingly tart finish. In the sip, that tart fruit fades into the background, letting the smooth, smooth biscuity malt and hints of vanilla come to the fore. It is boozy, for sure, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good, complex beer and one that has been as popular as pretty much every one of Ilkley’s beers ( ie very). I’d personally prefer a slightly higher carbonation in the bottles just to lift out some more aroma, but that’s purely personal taste.
When fresh, Siberia offers a different take on Saison or fruit beer; one to try, one to take home and think about, one to cook with (Siberia Sorbet, anyone?), and one to enjoy as the nights draw in (yes, its that time) whilst at the bar.
On a related note (and by way of a little self-promotion) I spent a Saturday a few weeks ago brewing with Andy and Mark over at Revolutions in Castleford. As you can probably tell from the overall feel of this post, I’m all for collaboration (as long as it’s done for the right reasons) and this came about in the best way for me, personally. For The Session a few months back, I posted about my perfect Session beer. Andy and Mark read it, liked the sound of it, and asked if they could make it – and of course, why don’t I come over and help, too?
EP was the result, and it should be hitting bars soon in Leeds, York and the like (it’s all sold out, as far as I’m aware). If you perchance upon it, please let me know what you think. As per the brief, it’s a low-abv (3.9%) session pale – pale being the operative word. Without giving anything away, we’ve gone for a soft, smooth mouthfeel and an only moderate bitterness. I’ve tasted it, and (I would say this, though, right?) I couldn’t be more pleased, really!
Edit – Since this post was drafted, a lively, lighthearted thread was raised by ATJ on his Twitter account about collaborations with beer writers (as in proper, professional beer writers). Check it out here…
Further Edit – That Twitter conversation lead to another post from Boak and Bailey with an interesting discussion afterwards….
Posted on 04/10/2012, in Beer and tagged Beer Reviews, craft beer, E.P Pale Ale, Ilkley Brewery, Real Ale, Revolutions Brewing Company, Saison, Siberia Saison, Yorkshire Ale. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
A “collaboration” beer, usually a one-off, gives brewers a chance to play together nice. Can you imagine chefs doing that? Well… maybe.
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