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Two Rivers unites breweries in spirit of collaboration


Story and images by Ryan McGinnis

Last month the Brewer’s Cabinet released a new collaboration of beers with one of Oregon’s leading craft brew makers, Ninkasi Brewing, under the name Two Rivers IPA.

The collaboration bore near-identical twin beers, each made with the same malts, hops and ancillary ingredients — with one notable exception: the beer’s water source. Brewmasters will be the first to tell you that the foundational taste of all beers begin here. And perhaps there is no better science experiment to prove this concept than the release of Two Rivers IPA, sourced from watersheds unique to each brewery’s location: the Truckee River of home and the McKenzie River of Oregon.

Naturally, the idea came forth over beers at the taproom, according to Eric Ramin, the head brewer of the Brewer’s Cabinet. What followed was the equivalent of “two kids in a playhouse,” said Ryan Summers, a longtime friend of Ramin who is the market manager for Ninkasi Brewing in northern Nevada and northern California. 

Image: Ryan McGinnis

Ramin and Summers met years ago working at a brewery in Las Vegas. Ever since their careers have adapted and changed, but ultimately the joy of making beer played a part in bringing them back together. Only now, their personal friendship is paired with years of experience and new networks inside the world of craft beer. 

“The best thing about my industry is the spirit of collaboration,” Summers said. “It’s the spirit of helping each other out in a symbiotic fashion.” 

Widening the playing field

Over the course of roughly eight years, the partners that make up the Brewer’s Cabinet started experimenting with beer and developing their own establishment. Like the many hundreds of other breweries of new across the United States, they faced the challenges of growing a business in a heavily saturated market. However, they have managed to grow and even thrive as small, local operators. 

Brewer’s Cabinet co-owner Zach Cage (r) with Reno beer drinker Chris Payne. Image: Ryan McGinnis

This is because breweries like Brewer’s Cabinet and Ninkasi Brewing see each other less as competition and more as benefactors — something that’s characteristically unique to the craft beer world, according to Zach Cage, a co-owner of the Brewer’s Cabinet. 

Ninkasi has a considerable distributional edge on Brewer’s Cabinet. Yet, in the spirit of inventiveness and collaboration, this presents a great opportunity for Cage and partners to acquire the mastery of operating a business on a larger playing field by sharing the label on these new beers.

“We can learn from each other,” Cage said of the newfound business relationship with Ninkasi Brewing. But sharing a label with Ninkasi Brewing means far more than riding their “coattails,”  according to Cage. “With notoriety comes responsibility and we need to challenge ourselves to do even better. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come.”

But how does it taste?


As for the beer, scientifically, you may never know how chemistry and geology excite the hops or malts in a beer, but you don’t need to be a cicerone to pick up on the subtle differences between each of the Two Rivers IPA. A mango flavored hop provides the beers with its fruity nods. Depending on your hop tolerance and appetite for fruit-forward tastes, you’ll enjoy one brew over the other.

Taste aside, it’s the simple pleasure of creation that makes these beers special. A degree of collaboration is needed to make any recipe come to life, though. These two breweries found a unique way to distinctly flaunt their shared IPA craft, while using the most elementary ingredient of water to contrast flavors of home.

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