So when Ryan Allen, Soul & Spirits’ co-founder and master brewer, met Social Project co-founder Chris Spence and head brewer Jamie Conway at the 2022 Frost Fest beer festival in Fayetteville, there was an instant connection.
“We found a nice little camaraderie,” Allen said. “You get to talk back and forth about the pitfalls, and the things that are going well.”
A year and a half later, the two breweries have reconnected, this time to collaborate.
Who Do You Love is a juicy, dank, 8.6% ABV double IPA that was made by the two breweries together here in Memphis.
It’s on sale now — on draft only — in Soul & Spirits’ taproom. It’s also available in a few locations in Arkansas.
Allen visited Social Project in Bentonville last week to return the favor, brewing a variation on Soul & Spirits’ Mud Island Ale.
A beer that pushes the limits
For Who Do You Love, Social Project brought its yeast, while the brewers tried to think of hops they haven’t previously used much. They settled on Citra, Belma and Enigma.
“The Citra kind of binds it together and makes it familiar for a lot of people. I think the Enigmas bring a really dank quality to it, and you’re getting like red berries and some of that tropical note. And then Belma, to me, is very fresh strawberry,“ Allen said.
The goal, Allen said, was to “push the limits” in making this hop-forward ale.
The brewers used six to seven pounds of hops per barrel just for dry hopping, not including the hops used in the boil for bittering.
The result is a hop bomb of a beer that goes down surprisingly smooth.
“I love it. I think it speaks for itself. It doesn’t feel like 8.6(% ABV),” Allen said.
“It’s kind of mellowed off the hop burn just a little bit. It definitely had that for the last week or so before the release.”
Soul & Spirits and Social Project made a total of seven barrels of the beer, which at 31 gallons per barrel, equates to 217 gallons. The beer will likely only last a couple of weeks in Soul & Spirits’ taproom.
Finding the right musical inspiration
All of Soul & Spirits’ beers have music-themed names to honor Memphis or regional artists.
“Yeah, I want to focus on Memphis artists here (for Soul & Spirits beers), but when we collaborate with someone else, I want to find someone from their area,” Allen said.
So for this beer, Allen looked for inspiration in northwest Arkansas, where Social Project is based.
He chose the late Ronnie Hawkins, who did a well-known cover of Bo Didley’s “Who Do You Love.”
The Hawk was born and raised in Huntsville, Arkansas, but later found rock and roll success in Canada. He was a mentor to many musicians who played in his band, including Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson, who later formed The Band.
At The Band’s farewell show in 1976, dubbed the Last Waltz, they invited Hawkins back to play “Who Do You Love.”