Rainbow Project: The Next Generation
Industry News - Rainbow Project: The Next Generation
The Rainbow Project, an idea spearheaded by Siren Craft Brew, has been an institution of British innovating brewing for the last five years. We have previously covered some of the history of the Rainbow Project in our Love Letter To Yellowbelly blog, but to recap and expand on that, let’s go into a more detail.
The History Of The Rainbow Project
In 2013, Siren Craft Brew gathered together six of their favourite breweries, and themselves, to set about undertaking an interesting challenge: to brew an IPA loosely themed around a colour. The Class of 2013 breweries included: Magic Rock, Partizan, Hawkshead, The Kernel, Brodies and Buxton. Each of the breweries took this opportunity to experiment with different ideas, recipes and brewing techniques. The end result was a roaring success!
For it’s return in 2014, Siren & Co. decided to raise the stakes and reach out to some European friends (and Evil Twin Brewing) and add a new dimension to the project. This time the breweries (with a couple of substitutions from the previous year’s lineup) were randomly paired and then assigned a colour, an ambitious endeavour indeed, the final lineup consisted of:
- Magic Rock & Evil Twin (Denmark/New York), assigned the colour Red.
- Beavertown & Naparbier (Spain), assigned the colour Orange.
- Buxton & Omnipollo (Sweden), assigned the colour Yellow.
- Hawkshead & Lervig (Norway), assigned the colour Green.
- Partizan & Mikkeller (Denmark), assigned the colour Blue.
- Wild Beer Co & Toccalmatto (Italy), assigned the colour Indigo.
- Siren Craft Brew & De Molen (The Netherlands), assigned the colour Violet
After the excitement of 2014, the Rainbow Project extended its reach even further, and this time to the opposite side of the Atlantic, as word had reached the other side of the pond about the curious developments ongoing on our little isle and piqued the interest of several American breweries, many of which were considered to be brewing some of the best beer in the world. Following the same format of randomly pairing breweries and assigning them colours, the 2015 transatlantic partnerships consisted of:
- Magic Rock & Cigar City (Florida), assigned the colour Red.
- Buxton & Arizona Wilderness (Arizona), assigned the colour Orange.
- Partizan & Prairie Artisan Ales (Oklahoma), assigned the colour Yellow.
- Hawkshead & Crooked Stave (Colorado), assigned the colour Green.
- Siren Craft Brew & Surly (Minnesota), assigned the colour Blue.
- Beavertown & Dogfish Head (Delaware), assigned the colour Indigo.
- Wild Beer Co & Firestone Walker (California), assigned the colour Violet.
Moving from strength to strength, the Rainbow project set its gaze even further afield than 2015’s transatlantic antics to the far-flung shores of New Zealand. New Zealand had been steadily building a flourishing brewing scene over the preceding years and Siren Craft Brew decided to strike while the iron was hot and incorporate them into the Rainbow Project! 2016’s lineup involved:
- Beavertown & Parrotdog, assigned the colour Red.
- Burning Sky & Liberty Brewing Co., assigned the colour Orange.
- Magic Rock & Fork Brewing, assigned the colour Yellow.
- Hawkshead & Yeastie Boys, assigned the colour Green.
- Wild Beer Co & 8 Wired Brewing, assigned the colour Blue.
- Siren Craft Brew & Garage Project, assigned the colour Indigo.
- Partizan & Panhead, assigned the colour Violet.
For the final two years of Siren Craft Brew’s custodianship of the Rainbow Project (more on that shortly), they revisited working with breweries from the USA, except this time there was a twist! The breweries would be paired, and assigned two colours, with the intention of the second colour being a barrel-aged beer to be released in 2018, an interesting prospect and a great opportunity to incorporate barrel-aged offerings to the Rainbow Project. For the final hurrah, the breweries were:
- Magic Rock & Casita Cervecería, Red (2017) / Indigo (2018)
- Partizan & New Belgium, Orange (2017) / Green (2018)
- Beavertown & Jester King, Yellow (2017) / Blue (2018)
- Hawkshead & Modern Times, Green (2017) / Yellow (2018)
- Siren Craft Brew & Sante Adairius, Blue (2017) / Violet (2018)
- Wild Beer Co & Side Project, Indigo (2017) / Red (2018)
- Burning Sky & 3 Floyds, Violet (2017) / Orange (2018)
But alas, it seemed that all good things must come to an end, as Siren Craft Brew decided to call it a day on the Rainbow Project, but due to one fateful conversation a new breath of life had been bestowed upon the project, and the idea was formed to pass on the torch to a new generation of breweries, to keep forging ahead and bringing innovation to the developing UK craft beer scene.
Which brings us to the present, and the new custodians of the Rainbow Project: Bristol’s very own Left Handed Giant, former gypsy brewers who’ve been steadily making waves in the craft beer world for their canny ability to turn their hand to just about any style and turn it into gold. Not only that, but they’ve selected and announced their exciting selection of running mates for the next generation of the Rainbow Project!
Kicking off the UK side of the new line-up we have Burnt Mill, producing consistently excellent Pales, IPAs and the occasional (also excellent) stout, we’ve been loving Burnt Mill’s offerings at CASC over the last couple years and are looking forward to seeing what they create with their American counterpart, Cascade Brewing!
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Cascade Brewing have made their presence very well known as masters of the sour beer world, choosing to opt out from what they have dubbed the “hops arms race,” and plunge into the lip-smacking depths of what sours have to offer.
It’s quite an exciting prospect to see how good a potential sour from Burnt Mill or a potential Pale style might be with the collaborative effort of this pair of breweries!
For those in the know, it goes without saying that DEYA have been one of the hottest tickets in the UK craft beer scene for the last couple of years, cracking out some of the most highly venerated IPAs in recent memory such as Steady Rolling Man, Into The Haze and Just A Glimmer.
Their American pairing, Holy Mountain, from Seattle, Washington however, are heavily focussed on oak and it’s influence on beer, whether it be for primary fermentation or long term aging, and have amassed a dizzying array of barrels, puncheons and foeders and are constantly toying with the relationship between hops, oak and mixed fermentation.
Perhaps we’ll be seeing an outrageous hazy oak-aged IPA from these two? We can’t wait to find out!
For the ‘Blue’ pairing of this year’s Rainbow Project, we have Left Handed Giant, who if you’ve made it this far should require no introduction, and another American purveyor of barrel-aged and blended beers, Alesong. Specialists in both wild and non-wild fermented beers, Alesong take great inspiration from the world of Belgian brewing, the old-world Lambic brewers and artisan wine-makers.
What could we hope to expect from this funkiest of line-ups? Who knows! But we’re looking forward to seeing the final product!
If by now you haven’t heard of North Brewing Co. you’ve been missing out on some seriously high quality brews; founded in Leeds by the owners of the legendary North Bar, cited by many as the first craft beer bar in the UK, North Brewing turn their hand to many styles and the results are always excellent, so it’s a pleasure to see them teamed up with Berkley, California’s Fieldwork Brewing.
Fieldwork have an outrageously robust and varied portfolio of beers under their belt, and as they describe themselves “Our focus is on exceptional, honest beer-making”
With these two working together, literally anything could be possible!
Coming in hot on the red spot is Manchester’s Track Brewing, specialists in pale, hoppy beers and collaborating on some of the best stand-out collabs of the last few years, they’ve been paired up with Los Angeles, California’s Highland Park Brewing, who describe their approach to brewing in quite an interesting manner: “Our world of fresh hoppy beers, lagers, and mixed culture fermentation is accompanied by unique processes, wacky microbes, and local ingredients among other things.”
Surely an IPA of epic proportions is due to arise from this combination.
For the next generation’s initial “Violet” pairing, Southampton’s Unity Brewing will be teaming up with Monterey, California’s Alvarado Street Brewery. Unity are founded on a creative ethos and a passion for soft, juicy IPAs and yeast-driven, seasonal, Belgian-style beers, cracking out excellent brew after excellent brew. On the other side of the atlantic, family owned Alvarado Street describe themselves as “Committed first and foremost to quality. Food and beer is what we're most passionate about, and this drives us to put everything we have into creating a memorable dining and beer drinking experience.”
It goes without saying that whatever they create together will surely be a highly polished, high quality product!
Last but certainly not least we arrive at Indigo and at the feet of rapidly growing UK brewing heartthrobs Verdant, who very recently had an ambitious but ultimately successful £1 million crowdfunding campaign, if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the sheer quality of their work, then I urge you to go out and find some of their beers and see for yourself. They are truly incredible!
Verdant will be partnering up with Oakland, California’s somewhat enigmatic Temescal Brewing, on whom we could find only the following information:
“At Temescal Brewing we make refreshing beer for curious people. We take pride in showing off another side of brewing, one that is softer, lighter, understated and approachable. We love to experiment and evolve, treating each batch as a new exploration. Fresh Beer. No Jerks.”
You can likely hope to expect a highly refreshing, hoppy haze bomb from these two, get excited!
Long Live The Rainbow Project!
With the pieces now in place, the Rainbow Project is set to ride again and push the limits of innovation in the UK craft beer scene and send us in to a new era of brewing excellence, and we couldn’t be more excited.
The Rainbow Project is dead, long live the Rainbow Project!