Collaborations and beer infusions have become a staple of craft brewing, and Rogue Ales & Spirits recently released one that comes out of left field in Kulture Clash, a blend of imperial blonde ale and kombucha tea. It is packaged in a tall, green bottle with an image of a sloth holding a beer in one hand and a beer with one of his feet as he is poised in a tree. He’s a sloth with a back story.
This beer is a collaboration blend between Rogue (Oregon Brewery of the Year in the 2018 NY International Beer Competition) and Brew Dr. Kombucha, a Portland, Ore., tea and kombucha brewery that opened in 2006. The sloth is a mascot of sorts for the kombucha producer, a sloth they call Otis Sisgood that represents the deliberate, slow nature in which they produce their goods.
So it is that Otis found his way onto the bottle, as the beer also was a product of patience, according to the brew’s back story. That’s the Otis effect, it would seem.“He’s not only a source of wisdom and levity,” according to Rob Nollendberger, the brand manager for Brew Dr. Kombucha, “but a constant reminder to take your time and do things right. Can’t rush the fermentation goodness.”
The base beer was brewed just for the collaboration, as was the kombucha – they literally were created to complement one another. Together, they created a hazy, golden copper beer that pours with an ample white head. So far, so good.
One whiff, and the kombucha comes to the fore, with a notable pungency, a bit of earthiness and possibly green fruit in the nose. It smelled a bit like a sour ale made with wild yeast. Intriguing, for sure.
Take a drink, and one is struck by the creaminess of the body – it’s semi-thick, and yet leans toward the refreshing side. Semi-sweet, all the flavor comes to the front of the palate. The kombucha is assertive in this one, with tangy fruitiness and a bit of acidity. In fact, I found myself at times searching in vain for the base beer – kombucha was prominent on my palate.
Interestingly, the concoction’s flavors quickly dissipate on the back end, coming to a clean, crisp finish. Kulture Clash is a new one on me, I must admit. If you’re a fan of kombucha, this one might be right up your alley, and with a relatively moderate 6.9 percent alcohol by volume, it’s not over the top in any sense. Makes for a fine summer sipper.
This beer is a limited release, so keep your eyes peeled at your favorite bottle shop. Kulture Clash will be gone before you know it. Unlike your typical sloth.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.