As far as CMBC is concerned, 2018 will go down as the Year of the Collaboration.
While they were traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest, faithfully choosing the crops of hops we’ll be using over the next year, they had the chance to stop by Great Notion in Portland, Oregon, to devise yet another collaboration beer to add to our quickly-growing portfolio.
“They’re fucking awesome,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink, forgetting for a moment that this blog is family-friendly. “In all seriousness, they’re fucking awesome.”
Great Notion co-founder James Dugan has spent plenty of time in Cape May. He grew up in the Philadelphia area, so he’s been spending some amount of his summers in Cape May for the past thirty years.
“When I was young, my parents would rent a house in Cape May,” he tells us, “but about 10 years ago, they bought a place in West Cape May. It’s a special family tradition for us. My brother and his family come down from Boston, my wife and I bring our two kids from Portland, and my Mom and Dad drive from Florida! They spend the summer, but we love visiting for the week and relaxing on the beach.”
This past summer, while the Dugans were in town and taking in their yearly sojourn to CMBC, James’s brother brought up the idea of the two of us doing a collaboration.
“I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not, but I thought it was a great idea,” James said. “So I sent an email out and a couple days later, Brian got back to me and the conversation began.”
“I was really flattered when they reached out to us to say they wanted to do a collaboration with us,” he said. “I’d been out there years ago by chance, and Brian raves about them all the time.”
Brian had been geeking out over Great Notion’s brews at GABF for the past two years.
“I was always blown away,” he said. “Their brews are completely unique and inventive, utterly delicious, and really just spoke to everything I love about craft beer. James said he’d be back out to Cape May next summer and maybe we could brew a beer together, and that if we were ever out in Portland to let him know, they’d love to host us for a brewday.”
Since Ryan and Brian were in the Pacific Northwest for hops selection, they made their way from Yakima to Portland.
“It’s a short, three-hour-and-change drive — or in the case of traveling with Ryan, a quick, 40-minute, beautifully scenic flight following the Columbia River — from Portland. It would’ve been irresponsible of us to not go hang out and drink beers for a day with one of the most respected and sought-after breweries out there.”
So, trekked out to Portland they did and impressed they both were. Brian loves Portland to begin with, and a visit to Great Notion made it all that much better.
“The entire Great Notion team couldn’t’ve been more accommodating from the minute we walked in the door,” he said.
Great Notion has two spaces — their original 7-barrel brewpub setup with a restaurant, and a 30-barrel production facility that they’re in the process of building out.
“We spent most of the day at the pub spot and then cruised over to the production facility for about an hour before we had to head out,” Brian tells us, “but that space is going to be ridiculously gorgeous when it’s finished. They’re brewing and canning in it now and it’s just a big ole open warehouse, bunch of space for barrel storage now, but they’re attaching a restaurant that’ll be the talk of the town when it opens.”
Ryan and Brian got to check out that 7-barrel brewpub as they worked on Strawberry Taffy — a strawberry vanilla Salt Water Taffy IPA.
“I love coming up with weird beer ideas,” James tells us. “So I started thinking about the Jersey Shore and two things popped into my head: Salt Water Taffy and Sea Salt. We do a lot of fruited IPAs at Great Notion, so I thought a Strawberry Vanilla IPA with taffy would be fun.”
Brian was all about the idea and offered to bring along some of our much-loved Cape May Sea Salt.
“The sea salt provides a nice counterbalance to the sweetness from the strawberry puree, vanilla bean, and taffy,” James said. “We plan to brew the beer again in August.”
In a way, the timing of the trip was fortuitous. We’d just finished brewing our strawberry milkshake IPA, Pinky Lee, so Brian was able to offer some insight into brewing with strawberries.
“There are definitely some similarities between the two,” Brian said, “and so I was able to offer some first-hand knowledge about brewing a strawberry IPA, and obviously I learned a trick or two from James and his crew, a few things I’m looking forward to trying out here one day. The beer should come out awesome.”
Regardless, it sounds like everyone had a great day.
“Our brew day was a lot of fun,” James said, “and it was a good challenge to brew a Jersey Shore-inspired IPA.”
Strawberry Taffy will be available soon, but only in Oregon. If you make a trip out there, let us know how it came out!