Collaborations happen every day in the brewing world. They foster a tight knit beer scene, promote a strong sense of community, bring people together, and, most of all, create great beer. But there are collaborations, which sometimes take you down the street or across town, and then there are collaborations that take you to Mexico, like the one Ellicottville Brewing Company just completed, where they traveled all the way to Mexico City to team up with Falling Piano Brewing Co.
The historic collab, which was able to happen with support from the Brewer’s Association ‘Together We Brew’ initiative, a new program that features seven American and Mexican brewery partnerships, saw the cross-border allies team up to produce Chilanga Ale, a rosy-hued, crisp, aromatic ale brewed with Hibiscus flower, naturally sweet Blue Agave nectar, and EBC’s iconic Blueberry Ale – a bi-national reimagining of a Western New York staple with a South of the Border flair.
Brewery Owner Peter Kreinheder, Head Brewer Dan Minner and CFO & Team Leader Elizabeth Harvey spent two weeks in Mexico’s capital across two visits. Part of the trip involved attending a conference by the US and Mexican Brewers Association’s hosting the participating breweries.
The final recipe for Chilanga, which was developed at Falling Piano by both breweries, takes fresh elements directly from the El Centro de Abastos, the largest open market in Mexico City.
“It was an amazing experience getting the opportunity to work with exceptional brewers in another country and culture. We were able to share ideas, procedures, great brews, and a little mezcal too. After brewing the Chilanga in late September, our friends at host brewery Falling Piano invited us back to enjoy the fruits of our labor and sample the creation at the country’s largest beer extravaganza, Cerveza Mexico. Truly an amazing opportunity that we hope to be able to attend again later this year,” Minner says.
Sitting here drinking a can as I write this, it’s immediately reminiscent of EBC’s trademark brew, but with a few nuances, including a subtle floral note from the hibiscus and a touch of sweetness from the agave. It’s crisp and utterly smooth. I also happened to have some fresh blueberries on hand, so I dropped those into the beer to enhance things. Fellow Buffalo Beer Leaguer Mark Jowett adds, ‘as someone who has drank approximately 4,386 Ellicottville Blueberry Ales in my day, it’s a blast from the past. It’s tropical, but not overly fruity and crushable; the perfect warm weather beer.’
And Chilanga is only the first in a series of collabs from EBC and Falling Piano. The next beer in the series is a Horchata Cream Ale brewed with corn flakes, cinnamon, vanilla, and other Horchata-inspired ingredients. Look for this beer in the coming months.
Good beer truly knows no borders.
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Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).