The Rise of the Fifth Horseman Saison – A Denver Beer Co. Collaboration

The Fifth Horseman mash

By Justin Lloyd, Ryan Conklin, Kevin Burke, Josh Rapp, Chris Rippe, Charlie Berger, Patrick Crawford, and Casey Capper

One of the most amazing aspects of the craft brewing industry is the level of camaraderie, support, and respect among the brewers and individual breweries.  They will often lend a hand, share expertise, pitch in to help, and purchase your product.  You do not see that in many industries, especially those with such fierce competition and slim profit margins.  There are many examples of collaboration brews between breweries, but we decided to take it one step further by doing a collaboration between bar owners, bartenders, and a booze blog.  The “we” being:

Ryan ConklinEuclid Hall / Denver Off the Wagon
Kevin BurkeColt and Gray / Denver Off the Wagon
Josh RappStranahan’s / Denver Off the Wagon
Chris Rippe – Rackhouse Pub
Justin LloydStar Bar Denver / Denver Off the Wagon

With all the organizational skills of 3rd graders, we managed to show up in the same 60 minute period to start work on our wet hop, fresh peach Saison. This topic grew out of the “cool idea” chitchat that always occurs between “industry” folk, mostly with libations in hand, and became something that we figured we could actually do.  We continued conceptualizing this beer with phone calls and email threads mostly kept alive by Ryan. There was some skepticism that 5 people as passionate about beer as we, with the unlimited combinations water, hops, malt, and yeast provide, could ever agree on a beer style. Turns out that was the easy part: sessionable with a strong Colorado influence.  We wanted to brew a beer that permitted the ingredients to shine through with minimal adjuncts and frippery.

You may be thinking, “Sure these guys sell great beer, but what do they know about brewing it?” We needed to trick some poor saps into letting our motley crew invade their pristine brew house. Enter Charlie and Patrick from the new Denver Beer Co.  We ended up needing a little, or maybe a lot, of help from these fine gentlemen.

Charlie and Patrick made a run over the hills to the Western Slope to pick up the fresh hops and fresh peaches.  Our goal was to create a brew that was flavor forward while maintaining the overall structure of a Saison.  Big flavors couldn’t squash the subtle and satisfying flavor profile of the grain, malt, and yeast.  We wanted quaffability and satisfaction at the same time.

At first taste it’s all Saison, but then the fresh Cascade hop flavors become apparent.  Dancing with some slightly peachy sweetness, mouth feel, and an ever so light tannic balance, with and assertive dry finish.

Fresh wet hops for the Fifth Horseman

After some threats of blackmail, bribery, and eventually begging, the Wagon Wheel Collaboration #1: The Fifth Horseman Saison was born. Four bars and a brewery bring a world endingly delicious saison to the table with Colorado hops and peaches. Think of it as Farmhouse meets Beerhouse. Although Chris and Justin “allegedly” jammed the mill 3 times and several of the peaches “mistakenly” fell into our pints of Denver Beer Co’s delicious Kolsch, with Charlie’s patience and guidance we crafted what we believe to be just what the Great American Beer Festival ordered. Four beer lovers, from four of Denver’s beer bars, collaborating with local brewers to create a true Colorado original. If that doesn’t speak to the essence of craft beer, I’m not sure what does.

The Fifth Horseman will be on tap at Denver Beer Co starting today, and at Star Bar, Euclid Hall, Colt & Gray, and Rackhouse Pub, early next week. Many barrels of thank yous to Denver Beer Co for letting us make a mess and a little bit of beer.

We’ve tasted The Fifth Horseman.  Definitely Off The Wagon approved.

The final product.

About Justin Lloyd

Justin believes that Beer, Tacos, and Cookies are the perfect foods, as long as one of them is spicy. He prefers interesting to boring, and has no patience for people that are simply taking up space and wasting air. Most of the time you can find him at the bar he owns and operates, making cocktails and friends. You should go meet him.