Eighteen local breweries collaborated Friday to create one beer, the “first-ever, one-of-a-kind Seacoast Collaborative Brew,” that will be released Feb. 23 to kickoff Portsmouth Beer Week.
The first group of brewers arrived at Great Rhythm Brewery at 4 a.m., so they justified uncapping and drinking bottles of Smuttynose East Coast Common before noon, as comparable to an afternoon happy hour.
Dagan Migirditch, co-founder of Liars Bench Beer Co., explained the collaborative brewing was organized into two shifts and the early group quickly decided on a Belgian IPA.
“Someone wanted to do a lasagna beer,” he said, explaining that idea didn’t get the popular vote.
Scott Thornton, who founded Great Rhythm Brewing Co. with his wife Kristen, said he welcomed the groups of brewers into his own brewery. Like chefs, he said, brewers know when to help in a kitchen and when to stay out of the way.
“Everyone has got to get their hands on it,” he said.
Thornton said the goal was to brew a 20-barrel batch of the Belgian IPA and later put half into 16-ounce cans. The other half will be shared with area brewers.
The collaborative brew will be released in cans at noon on Feb. 23 at Great Rhythm Brewery at 105 Bartlett St., where a brewers’ talk will follow at 1 p.m.
Migirditch said with so many local brewers on the Seacoast and in southern Maine, the time seemed right for the collaborative brew, which all hope will be the first of an annual tradition. Participating brewers this year are Great Rhythm, Liars Bench, Tributary, Throwback, Garrison City, 7th Settlement, Earth Eagle, Chapel & Main, Stoneface, Deciduous, Smuttynose, Neighborhood, Berra, Bad Lab, SoMe, Loaded Question, Redhook and Portsmouth Brewery.
The Great Rhythm tap room offers views of the beer-making process and the public was invited throughout the day Friday to watch.
Migirditch said Redhook contributed a strain of yeast, Throwback threw in a biscuit malt and Tod Mott of Tributary brought a blue ox malt. Thornton said he contributed pink and Szechuan peppercorns and long pepper from Stock and Spice in Portsmouth.
“We are supportive of one another and thrilled that Portsmouth is becoming recognized on the national scene as a must-visit for craft breweries,” Thornton said. “Portsmouth has a deep history in craft brewing, being home to the region’s legendary brewer, Frank Jones.”
Thornton said all proceeds from the sale of the collaborative beer, which has yet to be named, will go to the New Hampshire Brewers Association.
On hand Friday to help with the collaborative brewing and imbibing was Nicole Carrier, president of the NH Brewers Association and co-founder of North Hampton’s Throwback Brewery. She said the association provides education about craft beers to consumers and brewers, monitors beer-related legislation in Concord, and provides marketing for its members.
Portsmouth Beer Week is a 10-day event celebrating local beers and runs from Feb. 24 through March 5. The goal, according to organizers, is “to foster a collaborative environment, so we can push Portsmouth further along into the national eye as the great beer city that we locally know it as.”
Restaurants, bars and breweries are all participating in events across Portsmouth that will pair beer with chocolate, cigars, cheese and books. Find a complete list of events at portsmouthbeerweek.com.