Real Ale, Three Floyds and Surly Brew Up Collaboration

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 8.34.50 AMBonded by mutual devotion to metal, Texas based craft brewery Real Ale Brewing Company will be collaborating with Indiana’s Three Floyds Brewing Co. and Minnesota’s Surly Brewing Co. on an upcoming double black IPA dubbed “Blakkr.”

Set to be released in all three breweries’ territories this spring, Real Ale Brewmaster Erik Ogershok gave us the background on the trinity’s impending brew.

“This has been in the works for years,” Ogershok said, tracing his first introduction to Three Floyds back to the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago in 2010. “I’d heard of Three Floyds. I didn’t know much [about them] at that point because it wasn’t available here [in Texas.] But I had heard about Alpha King, and Dark Lord, obviously, I just knew that I wanted to try their beers.”

So, Ogershok made his way to the Three Floyds booth, and requested to try their full catalog. While there, he spotted a guy hanging out in a metal t-shirt, and that guy ended up being Todd Haug, Head Brewer for Surly. Ogershok, Haug and the Three Floyds crew quickly found common ground.

“We were surprised because at the time, there’s more of us now, but there weren’t a lot of us [in craft beer] who were really into metal, who lived it, who were buying the records, who were going to the shows,” Ogershok said. “There are a lot of people who like metal, but it’s more casual, it wasn’t really casual for us, it’s more like engrained in our lifestyles.”

A stark contrast to the jam band lovin’ hippies craft beer consumers were sometimes pigeonholed as, the group stayed in touch and hung out at annual national beer events like the Craft Brewers Conference and The Great American Beer Festival in the following years.

“The beer [collaboration] thing might have come up around three years ago for the first time,” Ogershok said. “It’s overdue. It can be quite the challenge to get breweries to brew a beer together. [It’s] just that you’re so damn busy. And it’s just the climate of craft brewing right now. Ya know? You’re busy. And, if you’re not, there’s a problem.”

Fast forward to 2014 and brewhouse expansions, production schedules and general fires under the asses of the involved breweries have finally propelled the group to put the planning and brewing of the collaboration beer in motion.

“Coming up with the name was harder than coming up with the recipe,” Ogershok said.

The group went back and forth on metal inspired names before Haug did some digging and eventually discovered Blakkr, an Old Norse word meaning “black” or “dark.”

“We always knew we were going to do some black [style of] beer,” Ogershok said.

Eventually, the group settled on a Black Double IPA and collaborated on a recipe that will feature two massive dry hoppings. The specifics of which, well, they’re still sorta shrouded in darkness, err, uhh, blakkr.

“Let’s just say that Simcoe will be a prominent player in the beer,” Ogershok said.


Blakkr’s label art was designed by Minneapolis based artist and SFX designer Michael Berglund. Berglund first developed a relationship with Surly when he was selected as the label artist for their 2011 release of Darkness Russian Imperial Stout.

For Ogershok, the influence of metal on this brew can’t be underscored enough.

“It’s very important,” he said. “It’s very important in my life, and it’s very important to all of us making the beer. Metal is at the heart of this project, it’s how we all met. Between all of us, it’s a part of who we are, so it’s definitely going to be a part of what goes into the beer. I mean, it’s what got us to this point, we’re not just a bunch of dudes who said “hey let’s make a beer together” we’re a bunch of dudes who like metal and said “hey, let’s make a beer together”.”

Naturally, that fact will influence the brew day tunes.

“We’re always playing a lot of metal at the brewery, and I’m sure when those guys are here we’ll be playing a lot more,” Ogershok said. “I don’t know what we’ll listen to, I’m sure some Emperor will be played.”

The Real Ale, Three Floyds and Surly teams will brew the beer three times, a batch at each of their respective breweries, with Real Ale being the first host January 13.

Real Ale is planning to release the beer during South by Southwest in March, with Three Floyds and Surly likely planning releases in their territories during the same March to April time frame. As for release format, Real Ale’s Blakkr will be available in four packs of 12oz cans, Surly will release in their signature 16oz pounders and Three Floyds will be packaging in bombers.

For each of the breweries, this collaboration will mean having one of their brews available in numerous territories where they do not distribute, a reality perhaps most dichotomous for Real Ale whose regular distribution is consciously confined to the Lone Star state.

“I think it’s cool,” Ogershok said. “You want to show people what we can do down here in Texas, that we’re not just some jerkwater place for brewing, that we’re down here making good beer. Ya know, I definitely think that there was a perception for a long time that we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing down here. So, getting our name out, even in markets where we don’t sell beer, I still think it’s good.”

As for all the Texans who will now get a taste of a beer from Three Floyds and Surly on their local shelves, two pretty highly lauded brewers of many a craft brew du jour, Ogershok certainly understands the anticipation, but is ultimately excited just to be collaborating with friends.

“I knew that a lot of people would be excited about that because those beers aren’t available here and those breweries are probably not going to be able to come here for a while,” Ogershok said. “I was excited about it just to be doing a beer with friends. That’s ultimately what drives it, just [wanting] to work with somebody. It just so happens that Surly and Three Floyds have profile, and that doesn’t hurt. I think we’re all excited to be involved in a project with some cool dudes and gals at some good breweries.”

Blakkr will be brewed at each of the collaborating breweries in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for specifics on its release.

Update 2/19/14: Details on Blakkr’s release have been announced!


The beer will drop at a day party Saturday, March 15 at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Blakkr release without a metal show to go with it, so the day’s performance schedule is as follows:
12:20- Giant of the Mountain
1:20- Canyon of the Skull
2:20- Widower
3:20- Vulgaari
4:20- Lions of Tsavo
5:20- Krigsgrav

For more details on the event, check out Real Ale’s Facebook Event.


1 Comment on Real Ale, Three Floyds and Surly Brew Up Collaboration

  1. Reblogged this on alcohol by volume and commented:
    It’s like three of my favorite places just decided to have a beer love child. I’m in.

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