Collaborations are not a new concept for craft breweries. The first credited brewery collaboration joined Avery and Russian River back in 2006 in lieu of a potential lawsuit. The reasons for breweries to participate in a collaboration range from innovation, marketing, and community engagement. Additionally, the process is just plain fun!
When we are considering a collaboration of any sort at Urban Artifact, our foremost concern is whether the brewery/company share the same values and passion for their craft as we do. At Urban Artifact, we always utilize fresh fruit and ingredients to develop flavor in our beer, never manufactured flavorings or extracts. That distinction is key for us when looking at collaborating with a brewery and applies to any type of food producer we might work with in the future.
Once we have determined that we share the same values, we usually end up choosing to collaborate through one of two avenues. The most common avenue is having a prior relationship and finding a schedule that works best for both parties. There also needs to be a concept that accentuates aspects of each business in which they excel.
A perfect example of this was our collaboration of WARMUG, a sour fruited golden ale with coffee, with Wolfs Ridge Brewing, Market Garden Brewing and One Line Coffee. Wolfs Ridge Brewing is well known for excelling at pairing coffee with beer – whether in their coffee blonde or Russian imperial stout. They even periodically host coffee pairing events for guests to experience various roasts in different beers. Therefore, it was a natural fit to incorporate coffee into our collaboration beer while also presenting a challenge to them of fitting it into a beer with pronounced acidity.
The second avenue that helps drive collaboration efforts at Urban Artifact is to find a mutual marketing benefit to help bring exposure to multiple brands which are likely to have different customer bases. The same rules apply as far as quality of product and showcasing what that company does best.
Our latest collaboration with Izzy’s restaurants exemplifies this precisely. If you have never been to an Izzy’s restaurant, it is normal operating procedure for each customer to receive a crock of pickle slices to snack on while you look over the menu and make your choice. We were able to take our Pickle Gose concept and blend it with the excellent brand and flavor profile that Izzy’s pickles embody. This allowed us to bring the Pickle Gose in front of an even larger audience and expose fans of Urban Artifact and craft beer to Izzy’s restaurants.
We are constantly striving to reach out to our local community, not only as a space to host events but also raising money for great causes. Fund raising can often come as a food drive, happy hour event or toy drive but occasionally we can tailor it with a collaboration. One such collaboration was with St. Anthony’s Friary located just up the hill from our Northside facility on Colerain avenue.
For that collaboration, we were able to utilize our expertise as yeast wranglers and capture wild yeast from the property to ferment the beer! Once the yeast was captured and the best culture selected, we brewed a beer with friars which they, in turn, blessed during the process. The beer was then tucked away into an oak wine barrel to age and mature for the next 6 months. Once the beer was ready, we bottled a portion and kegged some to sell out our taproom. The beer was released on Fat Tuesday with a portion of each bottle sold and pint poured going to the Friars to support their mission work.
The total time for the Friary collaboration was a bit lengthy with the entire process spanning approximately 15 months from start to finish, and showcases the planning need for a successful collaboration. That doesn’t mean all collaborations take 15 months, some happen quicker, so we are almost always working through multiple at any given time.
Chief of Strategic Development