BRADENTON -- Similar creative styles and focus on quality brought two brewers together just in time to debut a collaboration to kick off the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2016 spring training.
Darwin Brewing Co. and Rivertowne Brewing out of Export, Pa., a small town about 40 minutes east of Pittsburgh, are using the same recipe, but different yeasts for an unnamed beer they'll release in February. On Tuesday at Darwin, owner and Brewmaster Jorge Rosabal began making the beer with lager yeast.
It's one more collaboration strengthened by the partnership between Bradenton and Pittsburgh, inspired by baseball ties.
In Pittsburgh, Rivertowne will use ale yeast for its version. Rosabal said though the recipe, using barley malt, peppers from the Amazonian jungle, hops and water is the same, the "flavor profile is different."
"Alcohol on the ale is going to be more present than the one in the lager," Rosabal said. "The lager is more crisp and a drier beer normally."
"We'd like to put them on (tap) side by side to teach people the different tastes between lagers and ales," said Rivertowne brewmaster Andrew Maxwell.
Rivertowne will brew 60 barrels of the ale and Darwin will brew 30 barrels of the lager. The main difference between the two types of yeast comes down to temperature near the
end of the brewing process. After mixing grains with water and allowing enzymes to "grab" starches out of the grain, Rosabal said, the enzymes convert the starches into fermentable sugars.
Next, the liquid, often referred to as wort, and grain are separated by filtering and the wort goes into a boiler. Hops and other ingredients such as the Amazonian chiles are added before brewing the mixture for 90 minutes. The wort must be cooled before adding yeast. Ale is cooled to 75 degrees and lager is cooled to 50 degrees. Lager is ready in 30 or 31 days while ale takes 21 days, Rosabal said.
The beers stay at the respectable temperatures long enough for the yeast to "eat" all of the fermentable sugars in the mix and when the yeast finishes its job, "it goes to sleep," Rosabal said. Within a week, Rosabal will take samples and if they pass muster, he'll keg the beer.
"People often ask us when we add alcohol," Rosabal said, laughing. But the alcohol found in beer is a natural byproduct of fermentation. Rosabal enjoyed working with Maxwell and discussing their similarities and differences.
"They love what we are doing here," Rosabal said of Rivertowne. "They show a lot of interest in the spices we use."
The two brewing companies came together out of a "natural industry friendship," Maxwell said, and shared views on what's important in the brewing process. Maxwell was in Bradenton touring the market because Rivertowne had just started shipping beer to the area. He stopped in to taste Darwin's creations and the rest was history, Darwin owner and general manager Matt Cornelius said.
"Jorge and Andrew totally hit it off," Cornelius said. "And we realized we had a lot in common with them."
The Darwin crew has hoped to brew with Rivertowne for a long time.
"Ever since we got started we've always admired Rivertowne Brewing," Cornelius said. "They're very creative in what they do. The first beer I was really blown away by was their beer called Hala Kahiki; it's a pineapple beer." Cornelius and Rosabal feel a connection to Rivertowne's unexpected and unique use of flavors such as pineapple. Similarly, Darwin's flavors draw from South America's Andean and Amazonian regions.
"Darwin and Rivertowne have very similar backgrounds and ideologies when it comes to approaching the market with quality product," Maxwell said. "They put love in every pint and not just love but something that intrigues people and keeps it fresh and new."
It was fate for Darwin Brewing Co. to build its brewery across from McKechnie Field, where the Pittsburgh Pirates play spring training games, and later to pair with Pittsburgh-based Rivertowne.
"Rivertowne is located in Pittsburgh obviously and is one of top breweries nationally," Cornelius said. He's excited to share Darwin's newest brew with customers at home and across state borders.
"It will be something special people in Bradenton and Pittsburgh will be able to appreciate for exactly what it is," Cornelius said.
Janelle O'Dea, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095 or follow her on Twitter@jayohday.