The Continuation of the Collaboration
A Review of Clutch by New Belgium Brewing Co.
Posted on 7/14/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
                   
Good
The collaboration beer. Collaboration brews are just another highlight of the craft beer world that the huge corporate giants would never even dream of doing. Normally it means that two or more breweries or brewers have decided to put their collective thoughts together, brew a beer from them, and then see what the brew gods make of it. There are countless examples out there ranging from the time Stone, Dogfish Head, and Victory produced ''Saison du Buff'', to when Russian River and Avery decided to blend each of their beers named ''Salvation'' and form the ''Collaboration, not Litigation Ale''. But sometimes a collaboration brew comes from some of the strangest circumstances. Take for example Clutch from New Belgium Brewing Company.

Clutch gets its title in honor of the band with the same name, and according to the New Belgium website, the story behind the beer itself is pretty simple:

It started as chance, a sandwich shop encounter between a band and a fan. It ended as the Clutch Collaboration. This pleasing, two-part potion was brewed with chocolate and black malts for a rich and roasty overtone, then fused with a dry, substratum of sour for a bold and audacious flavor. Black as night, this beer is blended at 80% stout, 20% dark sour wood beer for a collaboration that begins with a sour edge and finishes with a big, dark malt character, lingering, sweet on your palate.

The two flavors come as raucous and riotous as the Maryland band and their Fort Collins fans, getting loud and making beer, together.


So in a nutshell, a fan of a band, who happens to brew beer, meets the band they are a fan of, who all happen to like beer, so they decided to make a beer together. Got it?

Now if you read the description, you will notice that Clutch is actually a blended beer that is part stout and part sour wood beer. Any of you who know me or read my reviews regularly know that I am a huge fan of stouts, and a blossoming fan of sours as well. Honestly, how could I pass this up?

In the glass, Clutch follows the path of a quality stout in the visual department. It has a super dark brown coloration that for most practical purposes could be called black. There are some mahogany hues around the edges when held up to a light source, and the two fingers worth of light tan head provide plenty of lacing through the entire session. When you get your nose in close, it again sticks close to the stout style, with only a few deviations in the direction of the sour ale side. In all honesty, there was a brief moment when I smelled it that gave me a fleeting image of a Bell's Cherry Stout. Granted, it wasn't as strong or ''open'' as the Bell's. but there was a bit of a parallel. Dark cocoa and chocolate were upfront, and some very dark roasted malts followed very close behind, and just beneath the surface there was what seemed more than anything to be a soured cherry smell. A slight alcohol burn comes through after a bit of breathing time, and with a bit of digging so do some spent coffee ground notes.

Going in for the first taste, I thought I knew what to expect, but had nothing set in stone. I was hoping for a bit of a Bell's experience since the nose slightly suggested it, but I still tried to keep an open mind. At first, ones mind might have to take a pause to let everything sink in because it is almost like a battle to be the first flavor detected. A definite flavor explosion occurs, but the stout side again prevails with some bittersweet chocolate taking the stage after all the carnage. The cocoa powder actually comes through with a powdered feel and taste next, and then the sour aspect does something very interesting. It settles in for the entire session, but it does so only on the sides and underneath area of your tongue. Go ahead and read that again. You feel and taste the sour flavor only on the sides and lower parts of your tongue. This aspect alone could be one of the most entertaining mouthfeels that I have ever encountered. You really can taste the sour on the sides of your tongue, and feel it underneath, while the rest of its surface remains calm and nicely coated with roasted malts, chocolate and cocoa. I know you think the 9% ABV probably got the best of me here, but I dare you to try it and tell me I am wrong.

So when I take a step back and look at it as a whole, Clutch is a very interesting brew. While it doesn't have the normal ABV that most session brews carry, there is a part of me that wants to say that it would make a very entertaining one for those with a more experienced palate. The mouthfeel alone makes it one of those beers that you should definitely take for a spin if you see it while out and about. But I also think that it is a pretty decent brew overall. I don't think that it would ever knock off any of my all time favorites on any list, but I would absolutely take a glass full of it anytime someone offered to pass it my way. My only word of caution might be for newbies and novices to be careful due to the high ABV. Other than that, feel free to enjoy it, as well as the video below.

Not many reviewers could put beer, a band, and The Walking Dead all tied together in one review, but we here at BrewChief.com aren't your run of the mill reviewers. Clutch has provided music for scenes in the greatest TV show ever made, The Walking Dead, and here is a montage of scenes from the shows first two seasons put to the song ''The Regulator'' by Clutch. You may now bow at our awesomeness.

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Clutch by New Belgium Brewing Co.
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