Aslan Brewing Company and Base Camp Brewing Company recently collaborated on two separate beers, but one style. This “cascadian collaboration” was built around mutual interests, the great outdoors and their love of beers that don’t follow traditional style guidelines.
The first collaboration beer was brewed at Base Camp about 5 weeks ago, in Portland. The second brewed at Aslan three weeks ago, in Bellingham. Base Camp released their version yesterday. Aslan owner, Jack Lamb was in Portland for the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo, so he was there for the release.
Aslan isn’t the only Tap Trail brewery to collaborate of late. Chuckanut Brewing recently collaborated with Devils Backbone of Virginia, on what will be a Session Pilsner and will be ready in about 5 weeks. That collaboration was also started around a friendship that started years ago.
A collaboration requires an exchange of ideas, brewing philosophies and joint problem solving. Having similar brewing philosophies usually means you have similar personal philosophies.
“If we lived and brewed in Portland, we’d be brewing and hanging with the Base Camp guys all the time,” says Aslan’s Head Brewer, Frank Trosset.
That philosophy revolves around a mutual love of the outdoors, including snowboarding. Base Camp and Aslan met three years ago while Aslan was researching opening their brewery. Mount Baker Ski Area and Mt. Hood Meadows share a ticket promotion. If you own an unlimited pass at either hill, you will get 5 free days at the other hill. Last winter Aslan decided to combine snowboarding and brewing. They’d collaborate on a beer, but instead of brewing in one brewery location, as with the Chuckanut and Devils Backbone collaboration, they’d brew in two.
Frank also said the collaboration was perfect timing with Aslan’s interest in seeing their beer farther south, down the I-5 corridor. They are pushing into Seattle and they hope to see it on tap handles in Portland as well.
The collaboration led to interesting brewing problems for Aslan. They are a certified organic brewery and Base Camp is not, so any beer they’d choose to collaborate on would be limited by what organic ingredients they could source. Having solved those they agreed on a style that matched their brewing philosophies: Out of the box and non-traditional. They decided on something they are calling an Imperial Steam Lager. It’s 7% and hopped with Summit and Sterling.
The Base Camp crew came to Bellingham for the weekend, about three weeks ago, to brew the Aslan batch. That weekend they biked all over the Tap Trail and introduced Base Camp to our amazing breweries. This led to an evening of two-wheeled hilarity that led to the name of the collaboration beer, “Night Riders.” That night the two breweries started with a pint at Aslan and hit up the other breweries, including, Chuckanut Brewing, Wander Brewing and Kulshan Brewing.
Brewers Frank and Austin showed me some of the scars from a few bike crashes on their bike tour of Bellingham. “I think I flew over my handlebars twice that night,” said Frank.
Bellingham’s beer scene has exploded. Not only are new breweries being built, the ones that are here are being inspired enough to push styles and strengthen friends through the brewing community. This can only be good for Bellingham.
I got a taste of the Imperial Steam Lager from Frank, right before it was crashed. The first pint in a collaboration that makes beer in Bellingham that much more exciting!
Aslan’s Night Riders Imperial Steam Lager will be tapped on April 28th. Make sure to be there!