Collaboration beers are all the rage these days. But I’d be willing to bet not many breweries have so generously offered to brew a beer with about 400 of their closest homebrewing friends.

Surly Brewing was the site this past weekend for the American Homebrewers Association membership rally, and what a turnout! It was pretty cool seeing a few hundred fellow homebrewers standing in line with their empty carboys, buckets and corny kegs waiting to get their 5 gallon share of the imperial brown ale wort brewmaster Todd Haug whipped up for everyone to take home and ferment on their own. Northern Brewer also provided free yeast packets to anyone who wanted it, so I picked up some Safale S-33, what I’ve read is supposed to deliver some nice English ale characteristics (although some say it’s good for Belgian styles, so we’ll see what happens). 

Here’s the breakdown on the recipe Todd used:

82%  Canada Malting Pale Ale Malt
10.8% Fawcett Brown Malt
3.6%  Dark Candi Syrup
1.8%  Fawcett Crystal 85L
1.8%  Fawcett Dark Crystal  120L
Bittering –Columbus
Whirlpool/aroma -Willamette
OG  1.085
IBU 64

After sampling a couple glasses of Surly’s new Wet Hop IPA, I got my carboy home without tipping it over in the passenger seat of my car, transferred to a larger plastic bucket with more headroom, and pitched the yeast. Within hours it was bubbling away nicely. Sunday morning when I woke up, the air lock was completely clogged with krausen spewing everywhere…since I don’t have a blow-off tube at the moment, and to prevent another explosive outcome like my imperial stout earlier this year, I pulled the top off and just let it ferment in the open. I’ve had luck with this before, so I’m crossing my fingers no serious bacteria get in there and screw up the whole production.

Word on the street is that people are going to try and save a bottle or two and bring it to the AHA National Conference next June in Minneapolis. The base wort lends itself well to variation, so should be fun to see how other folks decided to ferment and condition.  

Big thanks to Omar, Todd and everyone at Surly for the time and effort they put into hosting the event.