Chuckanut Brewery has teamed up with head brewer Jason Oliver from Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, Virginia. The collaboration will bring an original lager that will be exclusively available to taste at Chuckanut Brewery in June.
The product will be a low alcohol content brew, otherwise known as a sessionable beer in the brewing community. With its lower alcohol content, sessionable beer provides a better chance to taste the beer for what it is and makes for an original beverage, Oliver said.
Chuckanut Brewery’s owner Will Kemper took this opportunity to broaden his lager style. “This collaboration here is kind of a new style,” Kemper said. “It’s basically a lager style of a German pilsner.” As Chuckanut Brewery’s beers revolve around lagers, the creation of a low alcohol content beer will be something new to add to the shelves, he said.
The recipe will focus on the Germanic beer inspiration that both Oliver and Kemper share.
“This is a small pilsner. It plays off of many of our inspirations, what we find important and interesting,” Oliver said.
The interest in lagers sets both Oliver and Kemper apart from other brewers as they may focus more on ales.
“We do a lot of similar types of beers, which is not what most craft brewers do,” Oliver said, “We brew a lot of lagers, more so than most brewers.”
Even though the brew masters have known each other for a while, they only started talking about collaboration a few months ago. The brewers started their businesses around the same time in 2008 and met in Bamberg, Germany in 2010.
On a visit to one of their suppliers, the Weyermann Malt house, Kemper won the Small Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in 2009 while Oliver won the same title at the World Beer Cup in 2010.
“We were brand new brewers in 2009 at the Great American Beer Festival,” Oliver said. “We were competing rookies.”
As Oliver was coming up for the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland this year, they decided to take this opportunity to collaborate. And because of both brewers’ success in the brewing world, they expect great feedback from the product.
Their goal of creating a sessionable beer is a challenge both brewers have given themselves.
“I threw this idea out there, but I didn’t know if it was going to stick,” Oliver said, “Technically [sessionable beers] are harder to produce.”
Bryan Cardwell, the head brewer at Chuckanut was enthusiastic about the collaboration.
“It’s really exciting. We’re actually figuring out some of it as we go.” Cardwell said.
As soon as Oliver arrived at Chuckanut, both head brewers started discussing recipes and grains, keeping the Germanic beer and low alcohol content as their main inspirations.
There will be more collaboration between Chuckanut and other breweries in the future, Cardwell said. “The brewing community is really small and it’s always a great excuse to meet up with peers.”
As for Oliver, he plans on visiting the other breweries in Bellingham to get an idea of what the beer scene is like in the city of subdued excitement.