The Biggest Small Beer Ever

The Biggest Small Beer Ever

Alaskan joins breweries across the country in the biggest small brew ever

As part of American Craft Beer Week, Alaskan Brewing is one of more than 100 breweries — at least one in every state — to participate in what might be considered the largest collaboration in craft brewing history.

Biggie Smalls cheers

Toasting with “Biggie Smalls,” part of a nation-wide collaboration, at Alaskan Brewing on May 20.

Each of the participating breweries in March of this year brewed one beer, from one base recipe, but each with a twist unique to the individual breweries. The base recipe is from Paul Ogg of Declaration Brewing in Colorado.

Long a home brewer, Ogg was starting Declaration with a couple friends when he discovered he discovered he had a rare, aggressive cancer. Using one of Ogg’s favorite recipes was a way to honor him, Brewers Association Program Coordinator and collaboration organizer Andrew Sparhawk told USA Today.

“The goal, really, was just to quietly honor somebody who has been so dedicated to craft beer,” Sparhawk told USA Today, “and who has really been influential in so many ways.”

The collaboration also serves the purpose of celebrating craft beer and unifying many of the nearly 4,500 breweries across the nation.

With the one Porter recipe, up for interpretation, brewers seem to have created an array of diverse brews.

Alaskan Brewing has brewed up an ale based on the recipe, nicknamed “Biggie Smalls,” with its house yeast and featuring a robust peat smoke aroma and flavor that makes it feel at home in a line-up that includes Alaskan Smoked Porter, an exemplar of its style and the first Rauchbier on the American craft brewing scene when it was introduced in 1988.

Alaskan Brewer Steve Sano said the brewers wanted to showcase the peat-smoked malt, so avoided adding any of the house alder-smoked malt, and melded stout and porter recipes to get a brew that skews more coffee than caramel in its malt profile.

Though the nickname “Biggie Smalls” is a play on the “Biggest Small Beer Ever” tagline, Sano confirmed that songs from the late hip hop artist Notorious B.I.G. were not absent from his playlist during the brewing process.

“I think I have Nasty Boy on that playlist, Hypnotize on there — but not on repeat — and Victory,” he recalled.

Alaskan brewers found the nationwide collaboration to be fun and interesting.

“It might have been more fun if it had been done at a larger scale, and with more sharing,” Sano said, looking forward to the potential for a similar challenge in the future. “I would have liked to see what other people did with it.”

The brew is available on tap on location at Alaskan Brewing, where brew crew and visitors can join in on a nationwide toast at 4 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Friday, May 20, to celebrate the craft beer industry as 2016 American Craft Beer Week nears an end.