While collaboration brews are nothing new, the brand new Country Cousins collaboration between Batch Brewing Company and New England Brewing Company is a little different. Called the Black & Gold, the brew is a riff on the traditional Black & Tan concept, and potentially the first collaboration brew in the world brewed specifically to see one beer floated on top of the other in a serve.
According to Andrew Fineran, co-owner of Batch Brewing Co, he and head brewer and business partner Chris Sidwa had been mulling over the concept of creating a black & tan for a while when New England contacted them about a new Country Cousins opportunity.
“We met New England Brewing Company, and they approached us about doing a collaboration in their Country Cousins series,” he says. “The format they had done previously with Young Henrys was that they each brewed the same beer recipe in their own breweries and then they looked at each one to see the differences. But after some discussion we decided to do a different take on it and instead of brewing the same beer, why don’t we brew beers that when put together they complement each other.”
The Batch Brewing team experimented with chocolate from a local chocolate importer and the New England Brewing team experimented with locally grown hazelnuts, before settling on New England-grown jalapenos to match with the chocolate.
“We discussed the concept together and agreed to make it work. From there we each researched local products that would work well as a combination,” says Fineran. “So then we thought, what if we do a Black & Tan that’s kind of like that but deconstructed– so we’ll do a chocolate porter and they’ll do a chilli pale ale.”
After lengthy discussions between the brewers over the technical specs of the beers, the Black & Gold was born.
“The trick with this was making sure that when we brewed the beers the end result was that we could actually pour a proper Black & Tan,” he says. “Which means getting the ABV, and the specific gravity correct so that the porter will actually sit on top of the pale ale. It was really relieving that it worked.”
While Fineran notes that the concept of blended beer is nothing new, he says that the team was more focused on the concept of a Black & Tan, rather than beers made for flavour blending like those created by breweries like Moon Dog and Garage Project.
“I’ve definitely seen and tried those beers and I think they’re great, but this one was definitely inspired by the Black & Tan – that is what really drove it,” Fineran says.
Specific bars will be serving the beer due to the delicate nature of the serving process – also the Country Cousins Black is a nitro porter, which requires special equipment to serve it.
“We just put it on tap on Tuesday and the consensus between ourselves is that it looks and tastes great,” says Fineran. “And from what we’ve seen on social media so far is that people also like the concept and the way it looks. The chocolate and the chilli work really well together and it’s a beer that is really enjoyable to drink. And that is always what we aim to create. A fantastic looking beer that is well balanced.”
Fineran isn’t sure if the blending trend is going to take off, while it’s a great concept he is sure that it will stay a relatively niche trend.
“Because there are more craft breweries out there, it might open them up to experimenting with it more, but I don’t see an immediate trend coming out of it – though I would love to,” he says.
Find Country Cousins Black Chocolate Porter and Gold Chilli Pale Ale at:
New England Brewing
The Welcome Hotel – Ajò Restaurant
The Australian Heritage Hotel
Botany View Hotel
Union Hotel Newtown
Petersham Bowling Club
Forest Lodge Hotel