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New Terrain & Fritz Family Brewers Team Up for Collab Fest

New Terrain and Fritz Collab
Scott Grossman

Preparations for Collaboration Fest 2023 are well underway at breweries around Colorado. Last week, New Terrain Brewing hosted Cory Buenning of Fritz Family Brewers for a collaboration brew day. The two breweries are making an Italian Pilsner that combines Fritz’s knowledge of old-world lagers with New Terrain’s love of stylistic experimentation.

The breweries designed an all-barley recipe using Loral and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops for bittering. Later, they’ll dry hop with Grungeist for aroma. The brew will meld traditional processes like super-cold fermentation and natural carbonation with contemporary techniques like two cycles of dry hopping.

New Terrain and Fritz Collab
New Terrain’s Dave Johnson and Fritz’s Cory Buenning check the mash.

Serendipity Brings Collaboration

The New Terrain and Fritz collaboration happened through a somewhat random series of events. New Terrain brewers Dave Johnson and Brandon Wurtz were harvesting sage for a beer near Niwot, Colo., where Fritz Family Brewers is located. They had heard of Fritz’s reputation for quality traditional brews and decided to stop in. The brewers liked what they found and subsequently contacted Buenning about doing a collaboration brew.

Showcasing Traditional & Modern Techniques

When they started discussing a collab, the brewers looked to a style that could showcase both Fritz’s classical expertise and New Terrain’s modernism. Says New Terrain’s Johnson, “It seemed like a natural fit to go with an Italian Pils because it’s a traditional style. New Terrain tends to do kind of everything but we’re known for our hoppy beers and style-melding. It’s interesting to do something that’s got unique hop character but is also more like a traditional lager.”

New Terrain Brewing and Fritz Family Brewers
Johnson and Buenning clean up after mashing.

Additionally, the brewers’ backgrounds made an Italian Pilsner an easy sell. Between Buenning’s German brewery and Johnson’s Italian heritage, the style was an obvious choice. Both brewers also share roots in Midwestern brewing country, having grown up not too far from each other in Wisconsin.

Collab Fest – Uniquely Colorado

Collab Fest has become a Colorado tradition celebrating the creativity and camaraderie of local craft brewers. The popular festival gives Colorado Brewers Guild members the opportunity to partner with fellow brewers and develop distinctive and imaginative beers. The process strengthens connections within the craft beer community and also lets brewers learn and innovate together.

Johnson and Buenning both enjoy the uniqueness of the Colorado beer scene. Johnson says, “There’s a lot of that community inclusiveness that comes with the brewery scene in Colorado and the Denver area in particular.” Buenning, who has brewed in both Wyoming and Kentucky adds, “I’m new to the whole collab thing. It’s definitely a Colorado thing.”

New Terrain and Fritz Collaboration
Brew day: Christina Hobbs, Tara Graves and Dave Johnson of New Terrain, Cory Buenning of Fritz, Brandon Wurtz of New Terrain.

Brewer-Focused Festival

Johnson and Buenning love that Collab Fest is very brewer-focused. Both brewers like running into familiar faces from the industry and getting a chance to see what over-the-top creations come to people’s minds. “It’s become this really cool way to connect with other brewers, learn what the limits of brewing could be and also build that community,” says Johnson.

Buenning points out that the heavy industry presence makes it a golden opportunity for consumers and homebrewers. “If you want to learn more about beer this is the beer fest to do it at,” he says. Adds Johnson, “This is definitely the beer-nerd beer fest.”

This year’s festival will be held in Westminster, Colo., a suburb of Denver, on March 25.

Collaboration Fest is hosted by the Colorado Brewers Guild and presented by On Tap Credit Union. The event supports the Colorado Brewers Guild mission to promote, protect and propel Colorado craft beer.

All photos by Scott Grossman.

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