Over a year in the making, our latest beer is a true collaboration of ideas, flavors, and craft.
Surly and New Belgium proudly present Culture Collab, a blended culture American sour ale aged in virgin oak and red wine barrels.
The beer’s genesis began 5-6 years ago, when Surly Head Brewer Ben Smith and New Belgium Wood Cellar Director Lauren Limbach kept running into each other at beer fests and conferences. “She’s an icon in the industry, and she’s been a mentor and friend to me for years,” says Smith.
Talks of a collaboration began in earnest at Cigar City’s Hunahpu Day in Tampa in spring 2019. Ben wanted to use their “Felix” culture (the oldest souring culture maintained in the US) in tandem with Surly’s house cultures. Lauren agreed and contributed a tote of Felix from their Lady Marmalade foeder to the cause. Ben and his team brewed a strong Belgian ale base beer, and Lauren flew to Minnesota in August 2019 to help finish the brewing process (and take in the State Fair and an Iron Maiden concert). The beers were placed in a combination of virgin oak and red wine barrels, inoculated with the New Belgium and Surly cultures, and topped off with 400 lbs of fresh blueberries from DragSmith Farms.
The beers were blended earlier this summer, with Lauren consulting virtually because, you know, global pandemic. The finished product is golden-amber, delightfully complex, and mildly tart. Expect wine-like notes of peach, oak, green grass, and vanilla, with a dry, fruit-tannin finish from the extended aging on blueberry skins.
“It’s incredible how much fun and friendship was packed into the creation of this beer,” says Limbach. “The result is beyond my expectation, which was pretty high.”
We’re planning to go to Fort Collins and return the favor, tentatively slated for summer of next year. Ben and Lauren are already bouncing ideas around for that one and the only thing we can reveal at this time is that it will be a different beer and it will be cool as all hell.
Malt: Vienna, Pils, Acidulated
Yeast: Blended Culture Fermentation, Brett, New Belgium “Felix” Culture, Surly House Culture
Other Ingredients: Blueberries, Virgin Oak Barrels, Red Wine Barrels
Culture Collab is available in boxed single 16 oz. cans to all U.S. Surly markets.