What do a Catholic college in Connecticut, a popular outdoor apparel company, and the state of New Jersey have in common? They all seem to have nothing to do with beer, yet they all have craft beers created in their honor.
It’s understandable that when craft beer companies hit major anniversaries, they want to celebrate—and perhaps milk the milestone for a boost in sales—by doing what they do best: producing unique craft beers. Last summer, for instance, theMendocino Brewery introduced a 30th Anniversary Ale to honor the company’s roots, which can be traced back to a brewpub opened in 1983 in northern California called the Hopland Brewery.
Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a major anniversary to prompt a brewer to roll out a commemorative concoction. This fall, Virginia’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, which was founded in Richmond in 2011, introduced a “Belgian Style Tripel aged in Tequila Barrels” that’s been dubbed the Hardywood 2nd Anniversary Ale.
But, in what’s surely another sign of craft beer’s runaway popularity, a trend has popped up in which companies, brands, and even geographic locations that have no direct ties to the brewing business are also celebrating anniversaries with (yep) their own craft beers.
Over the years, brewers have occasionally taken the initiative and honored brands and special cultural anniversaries with new craft beers. Brews have been created to celebrate the HBO show
“Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars” characters. Delaware’s Dogfish Head, which has been named among the nation’s best craft brewers has released beers honoring the anniversaries of albums from Miles Davis (“Bitches Brew”) and Pearl Jam in recent years.
Lately, everyone from a Major League Baseball team to a small college in Connecticut to an outdoor apparel company are simultaneously promoting their own special anniversaries and jumping on the craft beer bandwagon. The most recent example is Patagonia, which this week introduced an organic lager called California Route to celebrate the outdoor clothing company’s 40th year in business.
Patagonia wasn’t foolish enough to try to actually make its own beer. (What would that taste like, Gore-Tex and recycled polyester?) Instead, it partnered with turned to Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company, which is based in Fort Collins, Colo., is known for high-quality craft brews, and, like Patagonia, tends to attract outdoorsy, active clientele. The limited-edition California Route is described as a “organic California common-style” lager that comes with an “aromatic blast of citrusy Cascade hops.” The blue label resembles Patagonia’s logo, and it’s only being sold in cans—which are better than bottles to bring on hikes and outdoor adventures.
“It’s just a fun, unique way to celebrate [the company's 40th] ,” Patagonia spokesperson Jess Clayton explained to AdAge. “And we like New Belgium’s beer. We’ve been drinking it here at parties for a long time.”
Here are a few other outside-the-box anniversary celebrations attempting to tie into the craft beer trend:
The Colorado Rockies
To many, Blue Moon is not a craft beer because the label is owned by MillerCoors, one of the world’s largest beer companies. Nonetheless, for the duration of the 2013 baseball season, Blue Moon 20th Anniversary Ale was sold to commemorate the Colorado Rockies 20th year of existence. The “easy-drinking amber ale” was available exclusively at home games for the Rockies, who just so happen to play at Coors Field in Denver.
Sacred Heart University
To “raise money for scholarships and honor the centuries-old link between Catholicism and beer,” Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University partnered with Stratford-based Two Roads Brewing Company for the launch of a new craft beer this past September. Via Cordis, which in Latin means “way of the heart,” is the name of the Abbey Blonde ale created to commemorate the university’s 50th anniversary.
The City of Redlands, CA
City officials in Redlands, dubbed the “Jewel of the Inland Empire,” asked its hometown brewery, Hangar 24, to produce a special beer for the municipality’s 125th anniversary in 2013. A red, hoppy ale “with pleasant crystal malt balance” called the Redlands 125th Anniversary Red Ale was released over the summer.
The State of New Jersey
In 2014, New Jersey will mark its 350th anniversary. Flying Fish, which is based in Somedale, N.J., and already has a series of brews honoring different New Jersey highway exits, will naturally do the honors of creating a special NJ350 Anniversary Ale. The ale will be sold on draft in bars and in stores in 750ml bottles, starting in February 2014. As for what it’ll taste like, Flying Fish is in the process of figuring that out. The brewer is soliciting advice from beer lovers at the company’s Facebook page while developing the recipe.
In true Jersey fashion, one commenter bluntly suggested, “Do a nice brown ale to remind us how polluted our waters are around here [and] raise awareness to the clean up NJ.”