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9% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Hazy light golden-orange, abundant white foam head that fades quickly to a thin wisp.
Aroma: Fresh citrus smell (lemon, orange), some peppery notes, reminiscent of herbal tea.
Taste: Tart, fruity, acidic, noticeable alcoholic characteristics.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, effervescent, with a dry finish.

The New Belgium-released version of the collaboration with Brewery Vivant that yielded Escoffier Bretta Ale, Biere de Garde is a more delicate, less funkified affair. Compared with Escoffier, it’s somewhat lighter bodied, drier on the tongue, and more Champagne-like in its mouthfeel. The different yeast and fermentation process make it less complex than Escoffier, but it’s enjoyable and a good representation of the classic French style.

GRAND RAPIDS — Quite a bit more quality beer hit Michigan shelves last week with the introduction of New Belgium Brewing Company into the state. But it also brings an interesting collaboration with Brewery Vivant.

Coinciding with New Belgium’s (Fort Collins, Colo.) release into the Great Lakes State, Brewery Vivant’s Escoffier also made its way into stores. The brewery only made 180 barrels of the beer, a high-gravity Belgian ale.

Peter Bouckaert, head brewer at New Belgium, said it’s a fun way to enter the Michigan market, and is made possible because of its soon-to-open Asheville, N.C., facility.

“At first, (Michigan) is a state that we’ve been dancing around for such a long time, capacity-wise, we’ve never been able to consider it,” Bouckaert said. “I’m not exactly sure how we chose them, but we came to Brewery Vivant because they’re a young, outstanding brewery.”

Escoffier, named after French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, sold more than 100 cases at the launch party last Monday.

About 500 cases of 16-ounce cans were sent across  Michigan for distribution. Each case has 24 cans, sold in four packs.

The beer is the first American craft beer to be canned with wild yeast, and will only get more wild with age. The can states you can age the beer up to five years. Escoffier has 9.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Meanwhile, Vivant will get some national exposure when they head out to New Belgium, the nation’s third largest craft brewery. There they will make a new collaboration.

“We’re still talking about it,” Bouckaert said. “We’re going to make slight tweaks to it, we’ve done it before with other brewers. We kept it similar, but different. In this case, it’s only going to be slightly different.”

The beer hasn’t been named yet, but will be released nationally in 22-ounce bottles in November.

9.5% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Golden orange with a small head.
Aroma: Sour smell with some fruit.
Taste: Malty upfront with a bit of a sour backend. Slight berry flavor as well.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Brewery Vivant’s collaboration brew with New Belgium Brewing, Escoffier, is a wild ale with malt, dried fruit and a bit of sourness. It’s a beer that’s advertised for aging — it says so right on the can — and gets better with warmth. While Escoffier is a bit on the dry side, it holds a very smooth finish and highlights some berry flavors during the process.

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.