Sunday, May 01, 2016
When Oskar Blues Brewery purchased Perrin Brewing of Grand Rapids, Michigan in early 2015, few Coloradans took notice. Yeah, it was interesting to see a local craft brewery buying rather than being bought out, but Perrin wasn't even packaging its beers at the time, regardless sending them halfway across the country for anyone to discover.
Last week, Perrin cans and kegs arrived in Colorado, the product of a far bigger, more capital-flush company that, after about nine months of canning its beer in its home state, is taking a big leap into America's most competitive craft beer market in its first expansion outside Michigan. And while it's hard to pin down exactly what place it will occupy in the Centennial State, its offerings show it clearly brings a uniqueness in style that helps to define it.
Take, for example, its Grapefruit IPA - a seasonal that's part of a growing trend of grapefruit-tasting hop beers. But while many others of the ilk rely on the hopping to produce a citrus taste or might infuse a little grapefruit juice into the product, Perrin adds whole grapefruits during the fermentation process. The result is an IPA less defined by its hop attributes than by its semi-tart, bitter flavor that comes on with an intense zip and finishes clean.
Or there's Perrin Black, a style with limited competition in this market or, frankly, in many others. It introduces itself with a medium body that belies its murky dark color but that contains a full, semi-roasty flavor. The beer is Perrin's best-seller in Michigan and officials are betting it will wear the same crown here.
And then there's a beer like its Lotsa' Problems IIPA, an 8.5% ABV kick to the gut that is being
distributed locally in mixed 12-packs with its regular, session and seasonal IPAs. That a company owned by Oskar Blues has a hop bomb should leave no one surprised. That this is a musty, malty imperial IPA that overwhelms the taste buds rather than blisters them with acidity - well, that's worth noticing.
Jarred Sper, co-founder of the four-year-old brewery, said that Dale Katechis and Oskar Blues have been light-handed in their influence over Perrin, providing financing to launch a canning line and influence to open doors in Colorado, but not a script to follow on recipes or marketing, And he said all that growth was in the game plan anyway for the brewery; it just is coming sooner that many thought.
Coloradans should like Perrin for one primary reason - it's making unique beers with a bit of a carefree attitude. In fact, it's easy to see why Oskar Blues found it to be a kindred soul.