With an increasing number of self-professed beer aficionados exploding onto the food scene over the past decade or two, it is no secret that craft-beer collaborations are here to stay. And while microbreweries from Vermont to Oregon are joining forces for one-off projects that highlight the best of both parties involved, the artisanally minded among us have begun to notice a spinoff trend. Unlikely partnerships -- between brewers and the likes of teas masters, musicians and even art museums -- are popping up everywhere.
In Chicago, independent craft brewery Revolution Brewing paired up with the city's Shedd Aquarium to create Penguin Hops, a sustainable pale ale brewed with hops grown in the aquarium's garden. In Portland, Oregon, Burnside Brewing Co. and seafood restaurant Riffle NW are making waves with Urchin Ale, a delicate wheat beer with a hint of brine from puréed sea urchin. And Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, and TV giant HBO are poised to generate a hit with the March release of Iron Throne, a blonde ale brewed with noble hops in a nod to the ruling family on the hit fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Though each collaboration and resulting brew is unique, there are certainly connecting threads. An emphasis on the local, the fresh and the limited are key, which stands as a sort of rebuttal to the corporate beer giants that tend to corner the domestic beer market. So settle in soon for a pint of one of these limited-edition brews--they could be gone before you know it.