It’s a Jailbreak!
It’s hardly a secret that hops dominate so much of what we as American brewers obsess over. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about New England or West Coast-style IPAs, hops, for better or for worse, are the embodiment of American craft brewing. They dominate almost everything we do, whether it be the beers we create, the hop contracts we covet, or the aura around them, hops are at the core of American craft brewing.
But without malt none of these coveted styles would mean a damn thing.
No one at Neshaminy Creek would argue against the fact that as much of our brewing influence comes from German brewing traditions as they do from the no rules, no fucks given attitude and persona of American craft brewing. Because of that, malt has always played a key role in much of what we’ve done over the past seven years. This much is apparent in our multi-GABF award winning Lagers, Churchville Lager and Croydon is Burning; two styles dominated by their specific malt characters.
Brewers are creatures of habit, and when we craft a beer we’re truly proud of, let alone one that’s one multiple awards, it’s a hard sell to get us to think about making those beers any other way, or with any other ingredients, particularly malt.
That all changed the first time we brewed with Proximity’s Munich malt in our 2019 release of our Altbier, And Justice for Alt. Since that first brew with Proximity malt we’ve been huge fans not only of the malt they’re producing, but the story and people behind this newcomer on the American brewing scene. Proximity isn’t just a malt company startup, they’re a new malt company driven by brewing industry veterans with a ethos and mindset different than every other maltster we’ve worked with in the past.
Innovation is what drives the American craft beer market, and Proximity knows this. I had a chance to visit Proximity’s Laurel, Delaware malt house, one of, if not the newest, malt house in the US of it’s size and got a first hand look at the commitment to quality and passion that Proximity has to make the best malt possible.
Proximity also is the only maltster of it’s size on the East Coast and the only one of it’s size within driving distance from Neshaminy Creek. They source their 2-Row Barley directly from the farmers in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania…hence the name Proximity. Pretty clever, right? Trust me when I say it’s not just good marketing.
During that visit back in June the idea to brew a collaboration beer with Proximity and Steve Dresler, former Brewmaster of Sierra Nevada, somehow came up in conversation. Steve has been collaborating and consulting with the folks over at Proximity on new malt development over the year or so Not a bad person to have on your team, right? I’ve been lucky enough to hear and met Steve on a few occasions in the past, and to say I hold him in high regards would be an understatement. Along with Ken Grossman he’s single handedly the reason why a brewery like Neshaminy Creek even exists. He’s literally one of the reasons I do what I do. When asked if we wanted to collaborate, an answer wasn’t even necessary.
Collaborations are always interesting animals. For me they always should be about learning, growing, and sharing the brewing experience. This collab was all of that and more.
Featuring a new Chocolate Wheat malt from Proximity, of course a dark German wheat beer comes to mind as the perfect beer to showcase it. But, with a beer style dominated so much by yeast character, what could we do to take all the things about the style and add a bit of American creativity?
This creativity came in the form of an Neshaminy Creek anecdote about The Banana Man. You see, back when we started brewing Highwater Hefeweizen, one of our beloved characters, Banana Man, graced the label artwork. But, after a resubmission to the TTB, Banana Man had to be removed from the Highwater label artwork because, in their official judgement, the TTB ruled that having a banana on the artwork could give consumers the impression that there is banana in the beer. Since we didn’t use bananas, nor state the use of bananas in the beer, Banana Man was banished to TTB purgatory. Sentenced to a life of hard time by the man.
But not so fast. Banana Man has made a jailbreak. He’s back, and he’s ready to surf his way back into your hearts.
Riding a wave of malted Wheat and Barley, and showcasing Proximity’s brand new Chocolate Wheat malt, we collaborated with Matt, Dave, Keith, and Steve from Proximity on a perfect Fall offering, a German-style Dunkelweizen, but with a small twist. Ensuring Banana Man’s return, we fermented this classic Bavarian style with yeast from the world’s oldest brewery atop 700 pounds of pureed bananas and conditioned it all on cocao nibs for a velvety smooth, rounded chocolate mouthfeel. It’s a Jailbreak! Banana Man is back.
We’re excited to let the Banana Man loose on at 5PM on Thursday, September 26th at Frankford Hall with a brewer’s discussion panel featuring Steve Dresler and Dave Kuske from Proximity and myself, Jeremy Myers talking, all things malt, the It’s a Jailbreak collaboration, and more, followed by a public tapping at 7PM of It’s a Jailbreak alongside a great tap and can list of other Neshaminy Creek offerings in addition to all the great German beers on tap that Frankford Hall is known for. Oh, and don’t forget about the German beerhall influence faire to grub on.
We’ll also be releasing can 4-packs and cases of It’s a Jailbreak on Friday, September 27th at 5PM at our Croydon Tap Room and The Borough Brewhouse in Jenkintown.
100 cases and a limited amount of draft will be hitting our wholesale an d retailer partners in the Philadelphia area the following week and we’ll be posting a list of where you can find cans and draft shortly.
Super stoked on this collab, and this is only the tip of the iceberg on some of the great collab announcements we’ll be making in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, and hope to see you on the 26th at Frankford Hall!