A Twelve Pack and Hundreds of Hours

It’s going to be a heck of a month.

We’re sending a multi-brewery collaboration 12-pack to shelves nationwide, we’ll embark on a seven-city festival tour, and we’ll welcome visitors to our new brewery on the other side of the country for the first time. But while it seems like the action is just beginning, the story behind the scenes is a bit different. It’s already been a wild ride and we haven’t even left the parking lot.

First there was the collaboration 12-pack.

We’ve never tackled an adventure quite like this one, but thankfully we’ve had our friends in the craft beer industry beside us. Twelve breweries traveled from every corner of the country to Chico, California or Mills River, North Carolina, to conceptualize and brew a collaboration beer with us. While collaboration brews aren’t uncommon, a 12-brewery 12-pack is something that hasn’t been done before. For us, this was pretty much like all of our favorite rock stars coming over to make an album.

Together, we dumped smoked North Carolina sweet potatoes into a Scottish Ale. We pumped 40 kegs of Oregon cold-pressed coffee into a Coffee Milk Stout. We brewed a Maibock with tropical flavors from the Florida coastline. And we assaulted—in the big-flavor kind of way—a California pilsner with our beloved hops. (That’s only a snapshot.) The result: a Beer Camp Across America mixed 12-pack as varied and complex as the home states of its brewers.

Then came the packaging.

Because the 12-pack contains 12 different beers, each had to be bottled and packaged individually. Then a team had to unpack each of those and repack the mixed 12-packs by hand. In the end, it took 50 people more than 350 hours just to bottle and hand-package the beer. (Interesting fun fact: Nearly 100 of those hours were spent assembling spacers for the two cans in each pack. Yes, there are 10 bottles and two cans.)

Needless to say, we were pretty pumped about sitting back and cracking open that first pack.

But a beer’s no good unless you can share it with your friends. So we shipped the 12-pack nationwide and are following it across the country with a seven-city festival tour with the breweries that collaborated on the pack. Oh, and around 700 other breweries are pouring their beers at these festivals—a celebration of craft beer like no other! Brewers may compete for your eyeballs on store shelves, but we sure know how to unite for a good time.

We’ve watched this industry grow for decades, and we’ve seen how collaboration drives it forward.

“Collaboration totally expands your horizons,” said our head brewer Steve Dresler. “Together, we come up with interesting combinations or practices that I never would have been able to think up on my own. But that’s just the beauty of conversation.”

We’ll drink to that. Join the adventure.

July 17, 2014 - 10:48am