Sam Owens, from Thirsty, on how the joy of collaboration can lead to a creation that’s greater than the sum of its parts
A lovely wine or beer is always best enjoyed with a bunch of other people. The feeling of togetherness, the camaraderie, the exchange of thoughts and ideas. It all contributes to a great experience.
The same applies at the other end of the process, with the folk who make the stuff. There is no fixed rulebook about how to make a wine, a beer or spirit. Producers, brewers and distillers are forever experimenting. Winemakers in Australia will make the trip to historic regions like Bordeaux, Piedmont or the Mosel to meet and exchange ideas with producers there. Young Frenchmen and Spaniards, forging their way in the wine world, will head south to do a harvest in New Zealand or Chile – open to learning about how they do things in the New World. There is no monopoly on knowledge. Everybody learns more by sharing.
Moving across to beer, craft brewers across the world pair off with each other more quickly than a group of randy teenagers at the school disco. These ‘collaboration brews’ involve one or more brewers travelling to a host brewery, where they will brew a beer together, swapping ideas, experiences and views – and invariably having a rollicking good knees-up while they’re at it.
It’s a brilliant forum for brewers to explore new techniques, make new friends and share in every sense. So next time you’re swigging a glass of South African Chenin Blanc or a hoppy IPA from a brewer in Manchester, listen out for all the voices in each sip. You should hear accents from everywhere…
At Thirsty, we’ve launched a huge pan-European beer collaboration project called Citizens of Everywhere. We rounded up 12 great UK brewers and paired them with 12 great continental brewers, each from a different European country.
At its core was our wish to celebrate all the great things we have achieved in Europe by collaborating and working together. Brewers travelled from Poland to Leeds, from Milan to Bristol, from Sweden to Scotland to hang out, make great beer and swap experiences. We, the consumers, are the winners.
Citizens of Everywhere beers worth a try are United We Can, £2.80, by Moor Beer (Bristol) and Birrificio Lambrate (Italy) – a zesty European pale ale, brewed with English and Slovenian hops; Oh, Vienna!, £2.80, by Five Points (London) and Bevog (Austria) – a rich, amber lager; and Enrichment, £3.10, by Siren (Berks) and Kees (Holland) – a Belgian-style IPA. All are available at Thirsty on Chesterton Road and Thirsty & Hungry on King Street.
For more info, visit citizensofeverywhere.beer