A few months back, when the pandemic was still dragging along, Boxing Bear released a different take on a collaboration beer. Rather than loop in another brewery to make something tasty, the brewery staff instead joined forces with local artist Rashan Jones of High Desert Flameworks to create Just Jonesin’ Peach Cobbler Ale.
That was plenty delicious, but after a while, we started to wonder if the artist-inspired series would actually be a, well, series. So let us give you some good news for your weekend, it is back, and it is quite a bit hoppier this time around.
“We love beer, and we love doing collabs with other breweries, but it’s just been fun to go outside the box and kind of have this collab and integration with someone else that cares about a different craft,” said Boxing Bear co-owner/head brewer Justin Hamilton, “and bring it all together to make not only a package beer, but also something fun for the consumer.”
Boxing Bear and Gallo Negro Tattoo are releasing Dr. Ink Me IPA this Saturday at all four brewery locations. The label alone is pretty darned awesome, designed by Gallo Negro’s Josh Escobedo, and Hamilton promised that the beer inside will be pretty awesome, too.
“I have had the idea of doing it with a tattoo shop or tattoo artist,” Hamilton said. “That’s the direction I wanted to go with the next in the artist series. I luckily went to high school with Josh Escobedo, who is the artist that we worked with to make the beer. And, being that he is in this circle of people that we already know, like Rashan Jones and all these people, so it was really easy to go that direction and work with someone. He’s also a really well-known artist in the city. His shop alone has exactly what we were looking for as far as that integration of people that love their craft.”
That existing familiarity helped launch this collab, but everyone still had to agree on what beer to brew.
“With High Desert Flameworks, when we first did that, we really focused on the profiles that Rashan Jones liked to drink,” Hamilton said. “So that’s definitely the direction that we continued with for this beer. Initially, when me and Josh got together, it was probably in March, early March or something, we really talked about how we do this. Because, obviously, we knew we wanted it to be art-forward. The design was going to be on Josh, mainly, within some small guidelines.
“Other than that, I really wanted to showcase a beer that he would like to drink, something that you would see them at the end of the day in that shop having a beer, or if you go see those guys on their day off, what they may be drinking, what they enjoy as far as craft beer.”
Like so many other Burqueños, Escobedo turned out to be a hophead.
“We started realizing and talking about beer styles, he was really into West Coast IPAs,” Hamilton said. “That bitter, upfront hoppy cleanliness and aromatic beer was really what he was looking for. The timing on it really worked out as well because I had just done a new contract and reevaluated our hops for the next few years, which always changes. It’s always such a stressful pain to do. But, either way, it just worked out. I was able to come up with some new varieties that we hadn’t played with before. Being that he was into this style of beer and we had some new hop varieties, it was a really easy direction to go.”
Hamilton looked through all those new hops, found a couple that fit the profile that Escobedo wanted, and combined them with a classic to create the Dr. Ink Me recipe.
“When we initially met, our tasting direction was going to be stonefruit, bitter, just a little bit of balance, but really just being an upfront, bitter IPA,” Hamilton said. “So, that being said, we threw together a really fun IPA recipe that I included Sabro, which we’ve never used before, Idaho 7, which we’ve never used before, and then Citra, which of course is the old fan favorite. So the three of those with the profile that we’re looking for — dank, stonefruit, and then Sabro has this kind of interesting like almost coconut kind of thing going on. The three of those coming together played off (each other) really well, just from the aromas, from the pelletized hops themselves to where it’s actually come through to fruition in this beer is really, really cool.
“The really neat thing about this beer, it looks great. The label, Josh kicked ass on the design, obviously, and it’s just going to be a collector’s item right off the bat. The beer itself is great. I can tell you right now we’re really happy with this beer. It has a really original flavor because we’ve never used those (two) hops before. It’s definitely something you haven’t tasted out of Boxing Bear before, that being said, it’s still a Boxing Bear beer, so it’s still going to have that high quality and standard we shoot for.”
While there still cannot be any big parties to celebrate a beer release, Boxing Bear is still doing what it can to make Saturday fun.
“We’re really excited just to get it out in the hands of the public,” Hamilton said. “We’ll have T-shirts for sale, so that will be Saturday at all locations, cans and T-shirts. Really, it’s just about having that connection with artistry, and the local connection, really. We went to school together, we both grew up in this city, but we kind of have our own direction as artists, and have both been successful as artists. It’s really cool to see 20 years later we came together to make a product together.
“It is going to be something that’s all around going to be unique and fun. The consumer is really going to enjoy it. We enjoyed making it. We had an awesome time with the collab. Josh and his crew showed up, Rashan Jones showed up, Nestor from Gobble This showed up and made tacos for us. It was an amazing day. That’s what collabs are all about, having a great time together. It was an amazing day. We’ll can it tomorrow and have the beer out on Saturday. We’re really excited to get people to try something that’s unique in more than one way. It looks great, it tastes great, and it’s just an overall fun thing to do.”
And yes, there will be more releases in the artist-inspired series in the future.
“We want to do start doing some more of these, in different aspects,” Hamilton said. “There’s lots of artists in this city that have all these different connections, so we’re really looking forward to looking with lots of different people. This is definitely one we’re really proud of and happy to get out.”
Thanks, once again, to Justin for the interview. Someone out there just save us some of this one since we will be in Colorado to watch the United match against the Switchbacks, and, uh, well, hit some breweries.
Keep supporting local!