This fall, 22 members of the Missouri Craft Brewers Guild collaborated to produce "Missouri Loves Company," a double dry-hopped Hazy IPA that will be sold to support the Guild’s operations. Participating breweries across the state of Missouri will sell 4-packs of the canned beer directly to the public beginning Wed., Dec. 16.
The beer originated as a response to the Guild’s operational funding challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Operating as a nonprofit, the Guild represents 140 independent craft breweries in the state of Missouri through promotions and regulatory advocacy. As festivals, conferences and other revenue-generating events in 2020 were cancelled, guild members joined forces to do what they do best: they brewed a beer.
Participating breweries connected via video conference and email to select a style and develop a recipe for the Guild’s first collaboration beer. Missouri Loves Company is brewed with two-row, Vienna and Pilsner malts, malted oats and flaked wheat. Talus, Mandarina Bavaria, Chinook and Summit hops were used in the 7 percent ABV beer that bears fruity and citrusy notes.
“One of our corporate sponsors is Hollingbery and Son Hops, who donated the hops. Steve Frith from Hollingbery gave us a list of available hops and gave our brewers the choice of four,” says Sherry Wohlgemuth, the Guild's executive director. “During our video conference recipe development meeting, our brewers talked through each type of hop available and ultimately decided on those four. The day of brewing, the brewers decided on the spot how they wanted the hop profile to work. Since everything leading up to that moment was coordinated via video conference or through email, it was a fascinating process to watch as they all took turns smelling and tasting the hops to make their decision. They were almost like kids in a candy store!”
Several allied trade members donated supplies, ingredients and financial resources to assist with the special project. Missouri Beer Co. volunteered to brew the beer at its brewery in O’Fallon, Missouri.
“Craft breweries have a history of collaborative efforts for the good of our industry,” Joleen Durham, co-owner and co-founder of Piney River Brewing Co. and president of the Guild's board of directors, said in a press release. “This whole project has involved brewers, brewery owners and allied trade partners from across the state working together to benefit the voice of Missouri’s craft brewers – our state Guild. What a pleasure to be able to work with our ‘beer family’ for this cause.”
“The name of the beer genuinely represents our state's craft beer community,” says Wohlgemuth. “In spite of the challenges all our members faced this year, we learned we are never truly alone. Even before a virus turned everything upside down, Missouri craft brewers helped each other solve problems, share ideas and work together to make all Missouri craft beer better. That spirit of solidarity remained strong throughout 2020 and helped everyone navigate this tumultuous year together.”
Jim Wagner at Lagom Design in Kansas City donated his time to design the label artwork for "Missouri Loves Company." Wager worked closely with corporate sponsor Express Labels to develop the label’s metallic sheen. The sponsor also donated the printing to reduce expenses. The artwork features icons that evoke the regions and state of Missouri.
“Missouri is such a diverse state – the geography, the people, the communities,” Wagner says. “There really isn’t a single symbol equivalent to, say, the Kansas sunflower or Georgia peach, where everyone says, ‘that’s Missouri.’”
Instead, Wagner incorporated visual imagery recognizable to many Missourians, including a silhouette of the Gateway Arch, a shuttlecock for Kansas City, the State Capitol, a canoe and a satellite view of rivers and lakes. He also incorporated elements from official state insignia and the state seal. “Then it was visually balancing everything so no part is more prominent than the others,” Wagner explains.
Putting a playful yet positive spin on the expression “misery loves company,” the new beer – and the collaboration involved in making it – exemplifies strength through unity.
“With the incredible growth of the Missouri craft beer industry over the past several years, the camaraderie among craft brewers is second only to the quality of beer being brewed,” said Curt Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Tie & Timber Beer Co. and member of the MCBG board of directors. “Creating Missouri Loves Company was an exciting opportunity for us to transform that camaraderie into collaboration. We hope all the Show-Me State craft beer-lovers out there enjoy this Hazy IPA as much as we enjoyed brewing it.”
Missouri Craft Brewers Guild, mocraftbeer.com/collab