When you see half a dozen brewmasters in the brewhaus, you have to wonder: "Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?" In a couple of weeks we'll find out the answer to that, when a collaborative beer made by six area brewers is released for Madison Craft Beer Week, which runs May 4-13.
Brewmasters from Capital, the Great Dane, Lake Louie, and Vintage developed a recipe for what they are calling a Wisconsin Common, modeled after the California Common Style or "steam beer" made popular by the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco. The final product features, almost exclusively, Wisconsin-grown barley and hops.
Kirby Nelson (Capital), Rob LoBreglio (Great Dane), Tom Porter (Lake Louie) and Scott Manning (Vintage) developed the recipe, while Mark Knoebl of the Grumpy Troll and Page Buchanan of the House of Brews joined them on Sunday afternoon for a special brew session at Capital in Middleton.
"It wasn't anything like work. It was certainly a lot of fun," says Manning about the collaborative process. Brewers can be very opinionated and competitive, yet with this project they seemed more like buddies. "We avoided the type of complications that you might find with a bunch of brewers with their own perfect [version of] California Common in their heads," Manning says.
Probably the trickiest part was agreeing on the recipe. Manning started off by offering a general description of the brew, to which all of the others contributed thoughts about ingredients or the process. It will eventually be an amber-colored ale that comes in around 5% ABV.
The beer will be available at the participating breweries and brewpubs that helped make it and on select tap accounts of bars that support Madison Craft Beer Week. Profits from sales will go toward the Wisconsin Brewers Guild. Several of the breweries involved in creating the beer will offer special evening tapping parties for it that week.
The beer will be called "Common Thread," a reference to its California Common style origins and the collaboration it took to make it. "The common thread is that we're all brewers and we're very proud of what we are doing," adds Kirby Nelson.