Kansas City is getting a host of craft beer collaborations

Alamo Drafthouse and Firestone Walker Brewing Company have collaborated on a brew that is now available in KC.

Alamo Drafthouse and Firestone Walker Brewing Company have collaborated on a brew that is now available in KC.

Good things happen when folks work together. In the midst of Kansas City’s microbrew explosions, there are a host of new craft beer collaborations that will be vying for your pint glass. The Pitch noted that Torn Label Brewing Company and Screenland Armour are producing an Imperial Ravager White IPA in honor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and we’ve got details on two more brewing collaborations.

Crimson Creation

Innovative movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse recently partnered with Firestone Walker Brewing to collaborate on Crimson Peak Ale. The limited-batch beer is inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming gothic romance “Crimson Peak.” Coinciding with the film’s October 16th release, the beer will be on tap and in stores, including Alamo Drafthouse locations nationwide and in Kansas City in mid-October.

Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League says, “Firestone Walker is one of the best breweries in the nation. We jumped at the chance to collaborate on a beer to mark this occasion with something special.”

“The Alamo’s been eagerly awaiting the next Guillermo Del Toro film and wanting to do something like this to help get the word out about it,” says John Gross of Alamo, who collaborated with Firestone Walker to brew the beer. “Guillermo’s team was supportive of the idea. We thought that Firestone Walker would be a perfect fit to make a distinctive brew that be perfect to sip during “Crimson Peak.”  Plus, it gave us a great excuse to escape from the Texas heat and venture to Central Coast California. Now the beer is pouring at 19 Alamo locations across the country.”

Dried hibiscus flowers provide the Alamo brew with its distinct color.

Dried hibiscus flowers provide the Alamo brew with its distinct color.

The collaboration unfolded over several months. Gross, Adan De La Torre and Bill Norris from Alamo visited Firestone Walker’s home base of Paso Robles, California, in August. They met with brewmaster Matthew Brynildson and together conceived of a light-bodied ale that would be seasonally appropriate.

“We left the nitty-gritty recipe-building to the world-class professionals,” Gross says. “There was a lot of imaginative back-and-forth about concepts and ingredients. For Crimson Peak Ale we walked into the brewery having settled in advance on hitting the beer with hibiscus as well as beets. On the fly, we collectively axed the beets.”

The ale derives its refreshingly tart taste and striking red color from 200 pounds of hibiscus flowers used in the brewing process. The flowers were intentionally used to evoke a crimson color as a tie-in to the film.

“Sourcing hibiscus flowers and integrating them into a brew was an eye-opening experience,” Brynildson explained. “But it created the perfect effect: a ruby-crimson color, lemony-tart and berry-rich flavor and a clean citrus-flowery finish that begs for another sip.”

“The Alamo crew was there side-by-side with the brewers lugging around bags and bags of dried hibiscus up and down the brewhouse,” Gross says. “It was all worth it to finally get to taste such a crazy-good beer.”

Alamo has previously collaborated with breweries and has more projects in the works.

“For the release of Drafthouse Films’ ‘The Connection,’ we worked with our pals at Odell Brewing in Fort Collins to brew a special saison using Aramis and Triskle hops from Northern Alsace, France,” Gross says. “We dubbed it the French {Hop} Connection. For us, collaboration brews are a great way to make something unique for our guests and gives us a chance to work creatively with breweries we geekily admire.


Chef Josh Eans sips the fruits of his labor.

KC Chef Collaborates With St. Louis Brewer

In a repeat of an I-70 collaboration beer series, Chef Josh Eans of Happy Gillis and Columbus Park Ramen Shop, teamed with 4 Hands Brewing Co. in St. Louis to develop another limited-edition seasonal beer.

This collaboration was a Preserved Lemon Gose using botanical ingredients the Eans sourced from Linda Hezel’s Prairie Birthday Farm. This tart wheat beer is the brewery’s take on traditionally preserved lemons. Brewed with sea salt, lemon verbena, lemon basil, and lemon zest, the Gose pours straw in color with a light, citrusy aroma and a crisp, tart finish.

“I got the idea while mopping up one day at Happy Gillis. I thought about salted, preserved lemons,” Eans says. “I had never seen a beer before that used them.”

He considered how the flavor and aroma of lemon naturally marries well with wheat beer. As a traditional German beer style, Gose is typified by the use of lemon and salt. So, a beer with preserved lemon and salt made sense. Eans also felt that herbs would compliment the beer. Further, the beer’s lemon and herb profile would marry well with certain foods such as shoyu, a citrus-accented ramen served at Columbus Park Ramen Shop.

“I contacted 4 Hands with the idea and they agreed to do it,” Eans says. “I sourced 25 pounds of dried herbs from Linda at Prairie Birthday and brought them to the brewery. 4 Hands provided the lemons. The brewery and I both like the idea of a beer that uses ingredients from a local farm and the collaboration between chef and brewer.”

Ean’s previous collaboration with 4 Hands in 2013, Late Harvest Saison, was also a “farm to bottle” concept. Eans and the brewer used locally-sourced ginger, honey and wild persimmons from Hezel’s farm. The chef processed 40 pounds of persimmons by hand to separate the seeds from the fruit and steam the flesh to kill wild yeast before the persimmon was added in the brewing process.

Similar to Late Harvest Saison, the Eans traveled to the St. Louis brewery to deliver the harvested ingredients and help with the brewing.

The Preserved Lemon Gose will be on tap soon in St. Louis and should appear in bottles in the Kansas City area in the next couple of weeks.


Pete Dulin is a Kansas City-based writer and author of Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City's Best Chefs and Cooks. http://lastbitecookbook.com/

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