Steve and I worked with Shaun in 2005 at the 21st Amendment Brewpub in San Francisco where Shaun is the co-founder and brewmaster. I was a newbie, having only homebrewed a handful of times but Shaun had graciously taken me on as an assistant brewer. Steve had a full-time job, but had worked previously in the brewery, and so was the experienced, on-call brewer, who came in to do things beyond my abilities, like run the DE filter, teaching me in the process. Here, we “brought the band back together” to collaborate on a beer.
I had had an email exchange with Steve about a year and a half ago where we threw out the idea of somehow brewing a beer together, which was the moment I began to learn of his deep love for Kuyts — a style I’d never heard of. Then Shaun passed through Paris a year ago and the idea came up again and began to take shape. Shaun set up a conference call in the summer, and we nailed down enough of the details to move forward. Steve wanted to make a Kuyt of course, I wanted to use some new French hop varietals, and Shaun wanted to make a big IPA. And so in the spirit of collaboration we decided to make a Koyt IPA with some French hop varietals.
The beer, which we’re calling Hugs + Hops, ended up being 50% malted oats (a mix of standard malted oats and Simpson’s Golden Naked Oats), 20% wheat, and the balance with a mix of vienna and pilsner malt. In order to deal with the lack of husk material from the wheat and naked oats, we also used a good amount of rice hulls, which our malt supplier Soufflet kindly tracked down for us. For hops, we used Australian Galaxy, German Magnum, French Mistral, and French experimental P10/9 from Cophoudal in Alsace. The result is a highly aromatic and hoppy beer, with aromas and flavor of peach, guava, and melon, with a deep malt richness and mild residual sweetness from the oats and wheat. We brewed 25HL in Bonneuil.
A traditional Kuyt from the Netherlands wouldn’t be so hoppy, nor would it employ French or Australian hops, so this one is pretty far outside of style aside from the malt bill. But interestingly, some consider the Dutch kuyt to have been an earlier adopter of hops and of higher hopping rates than British pale ales and IPAs, thus making it a forefather of sorts for modern hoppy beer. At least this is what Steve tells me.
This collaboration got me thinking about collaborations in general, about why we do them, when we do them, and with whom. I don’t think a brewery really needs a reason to collaborate on a beer with any other brewery, but some collaborations seem to make a lot more sense than others – and I really liked the feel of this one. Here my two former mentors and I were able to get back together as friends for the first time in 11 years since the last time we all met at the Zythos Festival and traveled together in Belgium. Aside from giving us the chance to stir through nostalgia and compare notes on our respective and very different brewery situations, the collab allowed us to deepen our connections – accompanied of course by a few beers! Hugs and Hops.