Collective Arts Comes to Chicago

Collective Arts Comes to Chicago
Selection of Collective Arts beers with artistic cans. Photo: Mark McDermott

We have yet another brewery making its break into the Chicago market. Collective Arts Brewing of Canada is making its aesthetic splash this week.

Collective Arts is located in Hamilton, near Toronto, in Ontario; one of a very few Canadian brewers to push into the midwest market. Their website notes, "We are a grassroots beer company fusing the craft of brewing with the inspired talents of emerging artists & musicians. Our brewery is dedicated to promoting artists and raising creative consciousness through the sociability of craft beer." They were founded in 2013 with a focus on non-traditional beer styles. Their packaged beers feature labels by artists and musicians that change every few months. For the Chicago launch, CA features labels by Chicago artists Talya Modlin, Tyler Nickell, Moron Eel, and Elise Sydora.

The brewer's Chicago entry includes these events:

Monday, October 16
Tasting at Binny's Oak Brook, 1500 16th St, Oak Brook, IL 4-6 pm
Tasting at Whole Foods Market, 1550 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago 4-6 pm
Tap takeover at Dusek’s Beer Cellar, 1227 W. 18th St., Chicago  6-8 pm, followed by a Benjamin Booker Show at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., Chicago
Tuesday, October 17
Tasting at Whole Foods Market, 3201 N Ashland Ave., Chicago 4-6 pm
Tap Takeover + Art Gallery at The Beer Temple, 3173 N. Elston Ave., Chicago 5-8 pm
Wednesday, October 18
Tasting at Binny's Lincoln Park, 1720 N. Marcey St., Chicago 4-6 pm
Thursday, October 19
Tasting at Binny's South Loop, 1132 S. Jefferson St., Chicago 4-6 pm
Tasting at Whole Foods Edgewater, 6009 N Broadway 5-7pm
Tasting and Meet the Brewer at Bitter Pops, 3345 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago 6-8pm
Tap Takeover at Kaiser Tiger, 1415 W. Randolph St., Chicago 5-7pm
Friday, October 20
Tasting at Binny’s Lakeview, 3000 N Clark St, Chicago 4-6 pm
Tasting at Binny's, 213 W. Grand Ave 5-7 pm
Tasting at Bottles and Cans, 4109 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago 5-8 pm
Tap Takeover at Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St., Chicago 5-8 pm

Let's run through the beers they sent me for my comment while we're at it. I'll be adding more as I get to them, rest assured.

IPA Project No. 3

This beer uses Crystal and Citra hops, picked "Super fresh." "Adding the hops in the whirlpool and not the boil lets the hops do the talking." Though classed as an India Pale Ale, it's a nearly "imperial" version at 7.1%. 80 ibu

There is a very fresh, leafy hop smell right under the pop of the can. This pours an extremely cloudy yellow, with a stiff head at the top. The smell is lemony when I bring the glass to my nose. It's got a big "hop juice" taste, with the malt and extra alcohol in the background. For all the citrus and pine hop bitterness, it's an easily drinkable beer, which makes it kind of dangerous. But there's a stickiness on my lips that reminds me this is indeed a beer with a stiff malt backbone. However, it looks like the Chicago opening will involve the next in the series, IPA No. 4.

IPA Project No. 4

Going for the "dank" IPA, with Hallertau Blanc, Mosaic, and Citra hops. A lot of apricot and gooseberry under the tab. Pours a cloudy yellow under a big foamy head. Taste is equal parts fruit and resin, and the malt is a pretty good backup. Hop bitterness remains on the tongue well after my sip has been swilled. But it's not as overbearing as a West Coast IPA.

Collective Arts Prophets & Nomads

A sour Gose from Canada's Collective Arts.

Prophets & Nomads

A Gose style beer, an ancient style that was recently revived. The typical Gose is a soured wheat ale sometimes made with salt and coriander. This version bumps the brewing bill with pink Himalayan sea salt. 4.5% abv, 12 ibu

First impression as I pour it is of Gatorade. Then a saltwater tang in the nose, and a reminder of hot Cream of Wheat. There's a fluffy head over a hazy yellow beer. Taste is a zesty tartness. Not as much salt to the taste as I caught in the nose. But the combination leads to some involuntary puckering. You do have to like sours to get into this one.

Gose with Guava

Like the Prophets and Nomads above, this made with malted wheat, coriander and pink Himalayan salt. This becomes a variation with the addition of guava puree. 4.9% abv 12 ibu

Pours another fluffy head, while the body of the beer is an even more hazy yellow. Smell has the tart zestiness, but there is an additional nose of tropical fruit. Some bits of fruit pulp cling to the sides of the glass. The taste is mild on the usual spice and sodium of a gose, subsumed by the tang of guava. Reminds me strongly of 5 Rabbit's Guava Paletas,  though that was more of a shandy beer/juice blend. Another interesting entry in current sour beer trend.

Collective Arts Ransack the Universe

"Hemisphere IPA" with hops from Washington & Australia

Ransack the Universe

A "Hemisphere IPA," so-called in this case, because the hops come from two different hemispheres: Mosaic from Yakima WA, and Galaxy from Victoria, Australia. 6.8% abv 85 ibu

The color is a little less amber than the flash photo here shows. Usual IPA looking beer under a frothy head. Smell surely has lots of the Northestern hop in abundance; including the catbox smell of Amarillos, to which Galaxy hops are close cousins. Just enough amber malt to try and keep the whole beer honest. Plenty enjoyable if you like the burn of excess hops. Which I do under the right conditions. Grilling some brats for my weeks lunches on the night of Labor Day to close out the summer? That'll do. Though this won't be the last Beer by the Grill: I can always fire it up for more beers.

Collective Arts Stranger Than Fiction

The flagship porter from Canada's Collective Arts Brewing. Photo: Mark McDermott

Stranger Than Fiction

Not many brewers keep a porter in their regular portfolio. This claims "roast flavor with hints of molasses," made with chocolate and pale ale malts. 5.5% abv 25 ibu. A 2016 World Beer Cup winner.

I'm popping this one on Sunday afternoon, following the weekend of torrential rains, leading to a day of bitter disappointment: Bears vs. Ravens. Luckily I have a porter, and Mrs. Naut's chili. Sturdy yet puffy brown head. Strong porter smell with chocolate malt and a bit of dark sugar. Pretty hearty brew with molasses and a bit of café mocha to it. Stone fruit notes in the very rear. An official welcome for that long delayed autumn weather. Curiously, CA does not have a Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, but they do have an Imperial Porter based on this beer.

Collective Arts Dry Hop Sour

Collective Arts Dry Hop Sour

Dry Hop Sour

This is quantified first as a sour ale, with Pilsener malt and a bit of wheat and oatmeal. Then it's dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Citra. The battle between these characteristics is won first in the nose by the hops. Big notes of apricot and passion fruit, plus an edge of pine resin. In the taste, the beer is equal parts hoppy and sour, giving an extra impression of dry white wine. The malt itself is bright and a bit dry. Having this late at night, and it's a good cap for the day, with a level 5.0% abv, so you're not burdened at the end of the day.

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