Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration -- that's where the action is at the geek-focused breweries around the world at the moment: get some extra wow factor into your beer by inviting someone else who brews highly-sought-after beer to work on one with you. Credibility for all!
Sometimes, though, two breweries just isn't enough. Which is why California legends Stone got together with their neighbours to the south Alesmith, then roped in the globetrotting king of the Danish beer geeks Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, to brew a beer. What style? Why a tripel, of course.
The result is Alesmith Mikkeller Stone Belgian Style Tripel Ale, seemingly just another in the growing list of hopped-up Belgian-style strong blonde ales. I was expecting something along the lines of Houblon Chouffe or Hop-It, but I was wrong.
The first clue was the lack of clumpy or hazy Belgian yeast residue. It's a very clear amber colour, with just a few bits hanging suspended, as in jelly. It follows from this that the body is a big'un, supporting a thunking 8.7% ABV: thick and greasy is how I'd describe it, very unBelgian. The dominant taste is mandarin fruitiness from some very generous American hopping, and absolutely delicious it is too. There's not a whole lot else -- a gentle sparkle, a pleasant warmth -- but mostly it's clean, hoppy and distinctly Californian. It's the simpler sort of three-brewer, transatlantic, hybrid style ale. I didn't miss the Belgian yeast complexity one little bit.