Summer Beer Jam: The French {Hop} Connection

Drafthouse Films has some cool stuff brewing. Literally brewing. (It's beer.)

In February of 2015, the Alamo sent me and a crack team from sunny Austin to the wintry hills of Fort Collins in what was to be the theater's first brewing collaboration. The Alamo Drafthouse and Odell Brewing teamed up to bring people a beer inspired by the upcoming Drafthouse Films pick The Connection.

Odell Brewing Co. has been at the forefront of the craft beer boom since they were founded in 1989. It is true that Odell has a spotless reputation in the world of beer. They are heralded not only for their product but also for their focus on philanthropy and award-winning sustainability. However, behind the curtain of a respected, community-oriented brewery, the Alamo uncovered a disturbing secret, a lunacy that can only be explained as a symptom of thin mountain air: Odell confessed to preferring the breakfast burrito to its indisputably superior counterpart, the breakfast taco. And so, our mission became two-pronged: to create a beer that harmoniously married cinematic themes and hops but perhaps, more importantly, to teach Coloradans that there is a better way to put eggs in a tortilla.

The Connection delves into the heroin trade in France during the ‘70s (and stars the main dude from The Artist -- that wasn’t a dog -- Jean Dujardin). The film pays homage to the scorched pavement, polyester suit gangster movies of yore. Dujardin has traded in his Clark Gable 'stache for a pair of Long Goodbye-esque sideburns. The viewer gets thirsty just looking at the hot concrete of Marseille and those heavy over-sized lapels.

After more than a few drinking brainstorming sessions, we schemed with Odell to make synergetic liquid magic. Teams from the Alamo and Odell came up with a creative way to pay respect to the movie by making a farmhouse saison using the French hop varietals Aramis and Triskell. The brewmasters at Odell crafted a recipe heavily incorporating these two aromatic hops in the daylong, 100 barrel boiling process.

They then dry hopped the ale even more at the very end of the process for an extra burst of grassy, pepper goodness. The lucky few from the Alamo got to dump in over 170lbs of these citrusy buds harvested from overseas. The floral characters of the plant combined to create a truly unique, rustic and bright farmhouse ale. We dubbed it: THE FRENCH {HOP} CONNECTION.

Hopheads pledging allegiance to any nation would have popped their top getting to smell those fragrant hops. Whether you're a Francophone or a native English speaker, massaging the hops between your fingers and wafting in the lupulin glands transcends language. The tightly packed green morsels of JUSTRIGHT bitter flavor are the stuff of peace treaties.

The crew at Odell made us feel right at home. Once we signed a series of safety waivers, they were more than willing to let us explore the brewery -- trusting of us not to trip over a web of transfer hoses or to fall into brew tanks. We were a couple of Laverne and Shirleys on the bottling line.

In the end we cranked out about 200 kegs worth of fruity and earthy ale. With only the slightest hint of bitterness, the collaboration clocks in at an admirable 7.3% ABV. The French hops resulted in an interesting and spicy pint that will perfectly accompany any movie this summer but, you know… especially The Connection.

As a novice homebrewer, having the opportunity to make a big-boy-beer on a professional production scale was a real treat. I realized on our way back to Texas that a green dust from the leafy hops was sprinkled in the lining of my jeans, an aromatic souvenir of a great experience. For some reason, airport security took some convincing that the only herb making its way across Colorado state lines was of the hops variety.

The team-up was a supreme success with a delicious end game for Alamo attendees to enjoy in the coming months. My single regret is that, while try as I might, the Odell gang vehemently stands by their bogus burrito preferences. Bless their hearts... More tacos and beer for us Texans!

Read on for the press release!

The Alamo Drafthouse and Odell Brewing are pleased to announce the release of their first ever collaboration, “The French {Hop} Connection.” Inspired by the upcoming Drafthouse Films French crime thriller, THE CONNECTION—releasing this summer—this limited batch beer will be part of Odell’s “Bridge Series,” available in stores and on tap starting in May, including at Alamo Drafthouse locations in Texas, Colorado, and Missouri. In addition to offering “The French {Hop} Connection,” these Alamo locations will also feature a mini Odell “tap takeover,” with several taps dedicated to other Odell brews throughout the month of May.

The creation of “The French {Hop} Connection” was a true collaborative process taking place over several months and culminating with Alamo CEO and Founder Tim League traveling to Odell’s home base of Fort Collins, Colorado, along with members of the Alamo Beer Team for a final tasting and brewing session this past February.

“At Drafthouse Films we are always looking for innovative ways to share and promote our unique film releases,” said Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League.  “Odell is one of the best, most innovative breweries in the nation, and I knew they would love the challenge of pairing a French-style beer to our new French crime thriller THE CONNECTION.” 

We were excited to work with the Alamo on this project,” says Odell Head Brewer Bill Beymer. “We wanted to craft a beer that would compliment the film and be a great representation of what we do. With ‘The French {Hop} Connection,’ I think we have achieved that.”

“The French {Hop} Connection” is a Saison-style ale featuring sought-after French hop varietals Aramis and Triskel—over 112 pounds worth!
“We were able to to source both Triskel and Aramis hops from a grower in France,” says Beymer. “It was the first time we used these two varietals, so it was really pleasing to see the way the sweet, spicy character with hints of citrus and herbs complimented the Saison.”
Odell and Alamo took inspiration from the upcoming Drafthouse Films release THE CONNECTION. A stylish, ‘70s-period crime thriller, THE CONNECTION tells the story of real-life Marseille magistrate Pierre Michel (Academy Award® Winner Jean Dujardin, THE ARTIST) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history: the French Connection. Inspired by true events, THE CONNECTION serves as the European flipside to William Friedkin’s classic thriller THE FRENCH CONNECTION.

Select Alamo locations will also be presenting special “beer dinner” screenings to debut THE CONNECTION and “The French {Hop} Connection.” Check for listings.

THE CONNECTION will be released theatrically across the country starting May 15.