Deschutes Brewery and the Class of ’88

Deschutes BreweryEarlier this year I was chatting with Deschutes Brewery‘s Gary Fish about various beery things, and he had mentioned the “Class of ’88″ concept—those breweries along with Deschutes that started in 1988—and how they should all get together to commemorate 25 years of brewing in 2013. At the time, I figured it meant throwing a big “birthday” type party at the GABF or similar, but the news came out yesterday just what it is they are doing, and it’s a much better idea than what I imagined. Here’s the press release:

Twenty-five years ago marked a seminal time for the budding craft brewing industry in the United States. Deschutes Brewery is working with four other craft breweries founded in 1988 (North Coast Brewing Co., Rogue Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co. and Great Lakes Brewing Co.) to create a selection of commemorative beers to celebrate their shared 25th anniversary.

Each of the breweries participating in the project will brew its own version of the recipe they collaboratively come with.  The respective beers will have a common heritage and ingredients with the brewers working together to brew the beer that will ultimately end up in your glass.

Deschutes Brewery will partner with the following breweries for the limited Class of ’88 series beers:

Brewery Partners: North Coast Brewing Company (Ft. Bragg, CA) & Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
Beer Style: Barley Wine
Planned Release Date: March 2013

Story: In the same year these breweries were born, renowned beer connoisseur Fred Eckhardt published The Essentials of Beer Style which included a barley wine style guideline which will provide the basis for this collaboration. All three versions of the barley wines that will result from this unique collaboration will be packaged in 22-ounce and 750 ml bottles, plus draft.

Brewery Partner: Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH)
Beer Style: Smoked Imperial Porter
Planned Release Date: May 2013

Story: Building on a history of great porters – Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald and Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter – this Smoked Imperial Porter promises to be exceptional. Both beer versions will be available for a limited time in 22-ounce bottles and draft.

Brewery Partner: Goose Island Beer Company (Chicago, IL)
Beer Style: Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale
Planned Release Date: Q4 2013

Story:  Brewers and owners are still working out the details on this beer, which they plan to brew with Riesling juice and Pinot Noir grapes. It will be aged in barrels that previously held Muscat wine in them for 10 years. Again, each brewery will produce its own version of the brew in bottles and draft.

Gary Fish, owner and founder of Deschutes Brewery said, “I’m very excited about all the Class of ’88 offerings.  I have known personally most all of the principals involved with these breweries for a long time and each them has made substantial and substantive contributions to the world of craft beer in their 25 year history.  Although these companies have taken different paths, all have distinguished themselves through the beers they produce and the way they have taken care of their communities and their brands.”

I love this idea on many levels, not the least of which because it highlights the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that permeates the craft beer world. And I have to say I think incorporating Fred Eckhardt’s The Essentials of Beer Style is inspired.

I hope each brewery is involved is able to have each respective collaboration beer available—something like side-by-side pairings would be ideal, but even just selling respective bottles at each brewery would be great (so you could get both the Deschutes/Great Lakes porters at both Deschutes here in Oregon and at Great Lakes in Ohio). (Hint, hint.)

This is definitely an ambitious project and one I’ll be following closely. Stay tuned for further details about the collaborations and associated events.

Comments are closed.