Last year my friend Bryan, head brewer at Lompoc Brewing, began his campaign to coerce me into a beer collaboration. Lompoc was in the thick of things with their Classic Rock IPA series that was to feature 11 (get it?) collaborations across the Pacific Northwest beer world. If I agreed, I would join the ranks of Fred Bowman, John Foyston and Jerry Fechter, Jack Harris, Brian Scheehser, and Hilda Stevens to name a few. And so you ask – as did I – how does Jen follow all those headlining acts? And why? What did I have to offer in the way of collaboration? Marquee status? Connections? Nope and nope. The other thing I got hung up on, predictably, was the name. If there was no concept-related tie-in to beer what was the point? Fred had conceived a white IPA titled the White Album. I watched as bands and hops were referenced: Cream, Foreigner, the Rolling Stones, Saaz, Nugs (& Rock ‘n’ Roll). I still dispute Poison as classic, but I get where she was going and she wins props for creating the only one still in production.
Months later at a Lompoc event, Bryan was still trying to convince me. Bands, songs, and oh yeah, how it might taste were discussed. Also, he had procured some hard-to-get hops from another brewery to appease my aversion to bitterness and my inclination toward citrus aroma. No pressure. Jack Harris only tried to steal them that one time. I had to admit I was pleased no one had referenced Led Zeppelin yet. They’re my favorite of the classics and no one used them. Actually, the missed opportunity was a little distressing. Though not distressing enough to outweigh the ‘opportunity’ to clean 900 pounds of spent grain out of a mashtun, Advil for days being my reward. I’d had my turns at Portland U-Brew and I knew brewing really wasn’t my, err, pint of pale.
Without committing I returned to my car and turned on the radio. Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On – one of my top Zep songs – was playing and I really listened to the lyrics. If it weren’t dark, I’m pretty sure the sun would have burst through the November clouds as Robert Plant sang, “And to our health we drank a thousand times, it’s time to Ramble On.” Light bulb. Sunburst. Angels singing. It suddenly added up to collaborate on this beer. I knew what I had to offer. I knew I could help market this thing. I’m a serial cheerser. It was one of my favorite songs by one of the greatest classic rock bands. It was the last beer in the series. It was truly time to Ramble On. I messaged Bryan. I was in.
And that’s how I ended up taking a day off in December to help brew 15 barrels of beer. No miracles in the way of suddenly wanting to become a brewer, but a fun day working with a good friend. The really fun part was designing the ‘show’ poster and supplementing it with social media to get people to the launch. The bonus? Coming away with a reminder of what I have to offer in the way of collaboration. But the really, really fun part? The IPA, of course! Cheers!
*As always, click on the mosaic for a slideshow of larger images.