GRAND RAPIDS — A chance visit has set in motion a collaboration between Brewery Vivant and the nation’s third largest craft brewery.
Vivant confirmed rumors today of two collaboration beers with New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo. One beer will be brewed in Grand Rapids this month, while a second will be brewed in Fort Collins with an anticipated November release.
“Our common sustainability goals, open book management and focus on Belgian-inspired beer gave us a lot to talk about,” Vivant owner Jason Spaulding said. “Our companies are drastically different sizes, but that is what makes our industry so unique. This collaboration reflects the common respect that each of us have for craft beer and the people who make it.”
The launch coincides with New Belgium’s availability for the first time in Michigan beginning Aug. 27.
Spaulding considers the collaboration unique in that Vivant is a much smaller, locally-focused brewery compared to the nationally-known and distributed New Belgium. Last year, New Belgium brewed more than 700,000 barrels compared to Vivant’s 1,800 barrels.
“At one point while visiting their brewery, I realized that one of their fermenters contained more beer than we made in the entire fiscal year,” Spaulding said.
Brewers from each organization have worked together on formulating recipes — exchanging ingredients and ideas — and then travel to the respective locations to brew the beer together. The Vivant/New Belgium project consists of two different beers.
The first was brewed in Grand Rapids and will be distributed through Brewery Vivant’s network. Called “Escoffier” — after the French master chef of the same name — it is crafted to go hand in hand with the food-beer experience that is part of Vivant’s focus.
The beer will be deep amber in color and utilize one of Brewery Vivant’s house Belgian yeast strains as well as wild yeast from New Belgium called Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, blending the flavor of both breweries.
A release party is scheduled at Brewery Vivant on Aug. 27, followed by a Michigan release of draft and in pint-sized cans. The beer will also be available in Chicago when Vivant starts distribution there in October.
A second beer will be brewed in Fort Collins and released through New Belgium Brewing’s national network. It will be part of their “Lips of Faith” series, available in 22-ounce bombers and on draft in November. The style and final recipe is still being developed as the breweries continue to work together.