Posted on January 9th, 2018

Surly Collaboration Series #1: KEX

Beer Release

Throughout 2018, Surly will be collaborating with brewers from across town and across the world, and bottling the results for you to enjoy. We kicked around a ton of names for the series (Garage Karate, we loved you most of all), but in the end settled on…the Collaboration Series.

“The spirit of collaboration in the craft beer world is hard to find anywhere else,” said Surly founder Omar Ansari. “We’re all beer geeks at heart, which really drives the culture. We love being able to compare notes, put our heads together, and make something cool and a little off-kilter. That’s the whole impetus for this.”

First up is Iceland’s KEX Brewing. Surly Head Brewer Jerrod Johnson collaborated with them in Reykjavik in 2016, and Steinn and Hrafnkell from KEX flew to the states in 2017 to return the favor. The result is Collaboration #1, a bright kettle sour that erupts with tropical aromatics from Enigma dry-hopping, along with subtle peach notes.

(Steinn and Hrafnkell observing the brewing process, telling stories about Bjork’s cousins.)

Steinn and Hrafnkell were inspired to turn KEX from a garage project to a full-scale production brewery after working with Jerrod on an imperial stout with Icelandic coffee and birch syrup called Norora. The new brewery will be opening this year, and Collaboration #1 will be a featured beer at the 2018 Icelandic Beer Festival, hosted by KEX in Reykjavik.

“Working with them again was a blast,” said Johnson. “We ended up comparing notes on which country had the most destructive volcano. Iceland has Eyjafjallajökull, but then I told them about the Yellowstone caldera. ‘Everything’s bigger in America’ was their response.”

The collab particulars:

  • 5.5% ABV.
  • Low bitterness
  • Those peach notes come from 17 lbs of peach puree per bbl.
  • Kettle sours use Lactobacillus cultures to naturally acidify the wort prior to the boil.
  • Steinn and Hrafnkell were the guys at Darkness Day with the cool accents and the Icelandic chewing tobacco. They are now Minnesota Vikings fans for life due to the “SKOL” chant.

Collaboration #1 is on sale in select Surly markets now. You can find it in the Beer Hall in early February.