Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Along the FLOregon Trail : Dunedin and Fort George Collaboration

There are bi-coastal collaborations lurking below the surface of the craft beer world. Back in late April, a brewer from Fort George in Astoria, Oregon visited Dunedin in West Central Florida to brew a beer together: Vortex on the Bay. Dunedin, Florida’s oldest craft brewery, was opened in 1996, a time when many of Oregon’s craft breweries were already well established. Says Mike Bryant of Dunedin Brewery, “In the Northwest, one of Fort George Brewery's most esteemed beers is their Vortex IPA. The brewery says the beer was designed ‘not to rip the taste buds off your tongue, but rather vigorously stimulate them and your palate into a lupulin-ecstasy of pleasure.’ Vortex on the Bay is the same recipe, but brewed using Dunedin’s water, yeast culture, and dry-hopping method.”

Bryant talks to us about the collaboration. Simply, it resulted from a love of beer. “Our bartender, Alex Hansen, moved from Astoria, Oregon to Dunedin, Florida last year and has regularly had cans of Fort George's Vortex IPA sent to him since the beer is unavailable this far from Oregon. Naturally, Alex shared the beer he loved with us and we were impressed by Vortex... This was the first time we had ever tasted anything from Fort George Brewery. We were instant fans.”

Alex’s love of the Pacific Northwest beer was the catalyst for a conversation between Mike of Dunedin and Jack Harris of Fort George Brewery shortly after Dunedin Brewery was invited to participate as the first Florida brewery in the Oregon Brewers Festival. Realizing a great opportunity to bring some depth to the Pacific Northwest trip, Bryant and Harris decided they would exchange recipes from Astoria to Dunedin -- and vice versa.

“Instead of creating new recipes,” Byrant continues, “we decided to trade. We would bring Vortex IPA to Florida and Fort George would bring The Rock DIPA to Oregon. The choice of IPA recipes was a simple one; since both breweries are pretty hop-centric.”

Fort George brewer Jason Palmberg travelled to Dunedin in late April for a five day stay, his duffle bag filled with hops. During his stay, the crew brewed The Rock, Dunedin’s Double IPA, and the Dunedin’s version of Fort George’s Vortex. The Floridian version, dubbed Vortex on the Bay, was released in Florida at Dunedin’s 4th Annual IPA Festival on June 2, 2012. Additionally, the original Vortex IPA from Fort George Brewery was on hand to sample side-by-side at the fest for comparison.

Bryant and Fort George brewer Jason Palmberg both have family ties to thank for their love of beer. While Palmer’s grandfather was ahead of his time and enjoyed beers of all kinds, Bryant has since joined the family business. As he explains, “Growing up in my family, love of beer was inevitable. My father started when he was a teenager, later developing his hobby into Dunedin Brewery (est.1996). From christening the first fermenting vessels with bagpipes as a young kid to currently managing the business, I've been around craft beer for most of my life.” 

While Bryant’s ties remain in Florida, a group road trip from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California in the Summer of 2004 helped him fall in love with fresh hop flavor and aroma, where he tried his first Bridgeport IPA on cask.  “Nothing compares to a West-Coast style IPA when it hits the nose and tongue. My love affair with beer is mainly a love affair with hops,” says the brewer.

“During our journey to the Oregon Brewers Festival, we will visit numerous breweries across the country. We will be documenting the entire trip and compile the footage into a short film to be released later in the year. Along with video documentation, a few of us will be using Facebook and our blog to post live updates. You can follow us at FLOregonTrail on Facebook and Dunedin Brewery.

Bryant outlines a number of their brewery and bar destinations, including BridgePort Brewing Company, Fort George Brewery, Gigantic Brewing Company, Hair of the Dog Pub, Rogue Ales, Cascade Brewing, Pelican Pub and Brewery, The Fish Tale Brewpub, Lagunitas Brewing, Russian River Brewing, Bear Republic and more.

While in Astoria, they will brew with the Fort George crew. “Day 1 will acclimate us to their brewing system and style. On Day 2, we will brew Astoria on the Rock, our Double IPA recipe. We will also be bringing some kegs of our other beer out to Fort George Brewery to share with their folk, including Vortex on the Bay,” says Bryant. Oregonians can keep an eye out for the Dunedin crew and welcome them in grand Oregon Craft Beer Month style when they arrive. For those attending Oregon Brewers Fest, Dunedin Brewery has created a unique IPA brewed with Florida orange blossom honey, sweet orange peel and plenty of hops. 

“It's going to be delicioussss,” says Bryant. “I'm sure we will conspire together after a long day of brewing and an evening of conviviality. I'm especially excited to visit Fort George and explore their full line-up of recent batches. I'm certain to be inspired and look forward to the possibility of more collaborations in the Northwest.”

Palmberg is looking forward to seeing the crew from Dunedin when they hit the Oregon Trail, and is excited to return the hospitality that he was shown while in Florida. Says Fort George’s Palmberg, “I really enjoyed Dunedin’s Pipers Pale due to the warm weather down there but also really enjoyed The Bard, Dunedin’s Heavy Scotch Ale.”

Dunedin Brewery's 16th Anniversary Party will be held on Saturday July 14th, the day before the epic FLOregon Trail journey begins.  You can find more information about the event, including the 26+ Dunedin Brews that will be on tap here.

In the spirit of continued collaboration, this article was brought to you by Sean Nordquist of Florida’s Beer for the Daddy, and Emily Engdahl of Oregon’s #pdxbeergeeks, diehard fans and supporters of Dunedin and Fort George, respectively.