Vail Brewing Co. and Bonfire Brewing team up for Inland Island beer collab ahead of Vail Craft Beer Classic
Zack Kaplan shouts over the loud noises of beer brewing in the back of the Bonfire Brewing taproom. He’s explaining the fermentation process – how beer becomes beer. Pointing at his 7-barrel – that’s 31 gallons– kettles, he looks at home in what he affectionately calls his “test kitchen.”
Kaplan, the head brewer at Bonfire, and Vail Brewing Co.’s Head Brewer Garrett Scahill worked together to create Inland Island, a mellow, fruity and funky Saison/Farmhouse ale meant for summertime sipping. With the Vail Craft Beer Classic this weekend, beer enthusiasts in town can check out this brew on draft at both taprooms while enjoying everything else the festival has to offer.
The brewers achieved their flavor by using Inland Island farmhouse yeast, then adding guava puree later. They also used white wheat and spelt in the malt, which adds an earthy flavor to the beer. It finishes with a slight tropical punch.
“We always come together and say ‘hey, what are you thinking about,’” Kaplan said.
This isn’t the first collaboration between two of Vail Valley’s the heavy-hitting breweries. Kaplan and Scahill’s first collab, called Make I-70 Great Again, came out in October 2018. They’ve got a collab New England IPA in the works already, so all three beers will have been released within five months of each other.
They love the teamwork and the friendly nature of the beer industry.
“We all get along. It’s not a competition,” Scahill said.
“There’s so many times too where we’ll both need an ingredient or something like that. It’s nice to close that gap. You have another resource here to help you out,” Kaplan said.
When making any new beer, including the collabs, Kaplan starts testing out ingredients using the two kettles in the back of the Bonfire taproom. Once he’s satisfied with the product, he kegs it up and puts it on tap for customers to try. Bonfire also has a production facility 1.5 miles from the Eagle taproom, where the brewery makes large batches for wider commercial use, which can end up in kegs or cans.
Scahill attributes some of the success of VBC and Bonfire to consistency. When customers are able to come in and get their favorite beer, and it tastes the same every time, he knows he’s found success.
“The thing that people don’t understand is that people are trying to make the same beer over and over again. It’s really hard to do,” he said.
Catch Inland Island on tap at both VBC and Bonfire.