About Black Shirt Brewing Co

Black Shirt Brewing Co is a progressive, artisanal brewery located in the RiNo Art District in Denver, CO. The brewery was founded by brothers Chad and Branden Miller and Chad's wife Carissa. Our focus is on creating unique, assertive, vibrant, complex, and ultimately perfectly-balanced beer. We do everything by hand, in small batches. No gimmicks. No bull shit.

Genuine. Passionate. Soulful. Authentic. Beer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

TiredPirate & What It Means To Collaborate...

Collaborate. To work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something. 

Too often these days, in and out of the beer world, people "collaborate" simply to gain more recognition for their work by attaching it to another's. It's obvious when this is happening, as the focus becomes trying to showcase the fact of the collaboration as opposed to the creation itself. These types of "collaborations" downplay the whole value of a true collaboration-which, in my mind, is to bring a variety of skills to the table and put them together in an effort to create something far better than the sum of its parts. Hopefully, in the best case scenario, the creation is something that would never be possible without the collaborators each bringing their own passion, conviction, knowledge, experience, opinions, biases, tendencies, and work ethic to the project. Again, this is the best case scenario. This is what happens when honest and true people collaborate, for the better good of the project. Unfortunately, this ideal scenario is not often the case.

I met Patrick Ryan Corrigan, better known at Black Shirt as TiredPirate, over 2.5 years ago. Since then, we've become good friends and appreciators of one another's art. He originally approached me, and really Black Shirt, about doing a custom art piece to hang in the brewery because he liked the feel of the brand that we were creating and the look of the space as it was coming together. I was blown away that a random painter (or so I thought at the time) would recognize these things and then volunteer his work to people he had never met. I was probably a bit suspect as well, looking back. When TiredPirate asked us what he should paint, we said "paint swagger," however that looks and feels to you. Because isn't swagger the sort of feeling you get when wearing a black shirt? After some consideration, his response was "swagger to me is Steve McQueen in the 1968 movie Bullitt!"


TiredPirate doesn't tend to fuck around - he's serious. Dead serious. He believes in art's ability to move people to action. And he acts, often and deliberately. That first piece he did for us actually turned into 3 pieces. They are incredible works of art and if you've been to the brewery, you've undoubtedly seen, and more often than not stared, in wonder and/or disbelief. They are stunning. They are prized possessions of ours and they will be hung in the brewery indefinitely. They are not for sale. They are priceless pieces of art that we cherish and love to show to people and see their reactions. If you haven't been to the tap room, a mere picture on this blog just wouldn't suffice. They are textural. They have depth and dimension. They are huge pieces of art. They're surreal. 

The first time TiredPirate and Black Shirt collaborated together was June First Friday, 2013. The idea stemmed from us being in a vibrant art community and having First Friday art walks throughout the year. We tend to showcase as many local artists as possible on these and other evenings. However, with TiredPirate it was a bit different. First, you have to know that he is a total beer geek. He travels for beer. He waits in line for beer. He knows who is doing what, when, and where and he's not afraid to shell out some dough in order to drink the really good stuff. He is an opinionated drinker and can tell when something isn't made with pride, passion, and skill, and like me, doesn't hesitate to express his thoughts. 

For the June First Friday show, TiredPirate created a huge array of paintings and we put them on display throughout the tap room, brewery, etc. If there was a sturdy, safe place with great lighting, we put one of his pieces on display there. If hanging required us to make some structural or lighting changes, we did it. It was an impressive showing of art. He had something like 20 pieces hung up, most of which had been created for this evening alone. Let me remind you that his pieces are intricate. They require a lot of time and effort. To say he busted his ass would be a drastic understatement.

In addition to the artwork display, we had decided pretty early on to create a beer, as a team, that brought together some of our favorite qualities of beer - seasonality, artistic expression, and a unique approach to our art. We ultimately settled on a rhubarb and hibiscus sour mash red saison. (Take that all in). We sour mashed some wort, boiled it, fermented it with saison yeast, and then conditioned it on fresh rhubarb and dried hibiscus - and I added some spicing that I'll leave to your imagination. We tasted the beer, in many stages, as a team and discussed what we liked, didn't like, and how to change it. TiredPirate brought in some near and dear friends to lend their opinion as well. We'd watch and listen to them try the beer, and we'd make notes about this all. Then back to our studio we'd go. We kept busy. We worked tirelessly. We created a beer unique to the project. We didn't stop until everyone was satisfied. We celebrated our victory and shared this creation with our friends and with those who were lucky enough to be there that night. It was truly a moment of time and place. If you were there, you knew. If you missed it, you'll never know. It was incredible.

Fast forward a year and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was circulating wildly on social media. It was, and remains, a great idea to drum up awareness and raise money to fight ALS disease. Once you're nominated, you have 24 hours to complete the challenge and to pass it along to others. In addition, you make a contribution which funds ALS research and, hopefully, eventually, finds a cure for this disease. We were nominated by Sarah and James of Former Future Brewing Co and I knew immediately how we'd respond-in epic Black Shirt fashion, of course! For those who haven't seen it, enjoy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkbHN3SCgPU ! 

Coincidentally, TiredPirate was sitting at our bar the night that we were challenged and accepted the challenge. I told him our plans and he instantly rearranged his schedule to hang around and be a part of it all. At the same time, we began to reflect on our past work together and considered doing it again. It would make sense, because in the past year he has grown as an artist and we've grown as brewers. There are new talents to bring to the table. There are new perspectives. New inspirations. We still have more to collectively give to the world. It was settled. He'd paint more pieces. We'd create a new beer. We'd throw another party. It would be meaningful. It would reflect our team brought together by a series of conversations and brainstorms, cemented by a desire to experiment and create. It would be seasonal. It would be emotional. It would convey something unique to the world and transport them to a different place. It would be great. Nothing less. The project would be the focus, not the players. The creation would stand on its own, and wouldn't need the back story to make it amazing. It would be available for one night only, a testament to time and place that was indelible and fleeting.

12-05-14 | Black Shirt Brewing Co | 3719 Walnut St.

Special thanks to "Brand Ambassador Extraordinaire" Meghan Howes for the proofread and edit. 

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