Brewery collaborations are a hot idea in today’s craft beer market, both for brewers and consumers. Craft brewers are social animals and enjoy the experience, shared knowledge and camaraderie in brewing with their competition. Craft consumers love the limited, special releases that often deviate from a brewery’s standard fare.
So it’s no surprise that two North Texas breweries would collaborate on a beer, and it’s no surprise those two would be Fort Worth’s Rahr & Sons and Garland’s Lakewood Brewing. (Wim Bens, owner and brewer at Lakewood, cut his brewing teeth with Fritz Rahr before building his own brewery.) The result is the rather plainly named DFW: A Collaboration of Two Breweries, released just this past week in celebration of North Texas Beer Week.
Unlike most one-off craft beer collaborations, this one is intended to be an ongoing annual series with the two brewers with actual production and bottling alternating between their two facilities. This has already stirred up some complications primarily because each brewer is serviced by competing distributors who at present refuse to carry the other’s product, which means regional availability will vary from year to year. Hopefully, an amenable solution can be found before next year’s release.
Brewer collaborations can also be risky in terms of the actual beer produced, no longer the vision and talent of a single, unified brewing team but an effort to accommodate two (or more) cooks in the proverbial kitchen. Sometimes a complementary pairing results in beautiful beers but, more often than not, most collaboration beers fall short of their intended greatness. However, this DFW beer lands somewhere in the middle.
The declared style of DFW: A Collaboration of Two Breweries is a Belgian dubbel but instead of being classically to style, this beer reflects its family tree. A dark ruby brown beer, the aroma and flavor is dry malt with a dusty, dark-bread favor. The expected yeast components for a Belgian brew appear only in the background, playing second to the cocoa and light-roast malt. It misses the deeper, richer elements of figs, raisins, dark fruits and esters expected in a traditional dubbel.
At 6.4% ABV, DFW is a fine beer that will pair easily with a wide range of food. But the German brewing heritage of Rahr & Sons seems to conflict with the Belgian brewing philosophy of Lakewood. The expected style profile is just slightly missed, and the final product seems more subdued than expected. The label tagline of a “Belgian-Inspired Dubbel” might more accurately be a “German-Inspired Belgian.”
Availability: Found at finer beer bars and retailers, in 22-oz bottles and on tap for a limited time.