For 60 years, the Cosmosphere has been a leader in the presentation and preservation of space exploration history. From its dynamic exhibits to its collection of recovered and restored space artifacts, the Hutchinson, Kansas institution has had everything you would want and expect from a world-class museum.
Everything, that is, except its own beer.
"As I have had the opportunity to travel to various museums. I have noticed that some that have partnered with local craft breweries on creating a beer," said Jim Remar, president and chief executive officer of the Cosmosphere, in an interview with collectSPACE.com. "So I sort of had beer envy."
Enter "Space Race," a new Hazy IPA crafted by Hutchinson-based Salt City Brewing Co. in partnership with the Cosmosphere International Sci-Ed Center and Space Museum to celebrate the history and future of space exploration.
"From the outer reaches of the universe, lovers of beer and space come to Hutchinson, Kansas. Their quest: the best Hazy IPA and the best space museum in the Heartland," Salt City Brewing wrote on its website introducing Space Race.
Described as an "off-planet experience for your palate," Space Race is brewed using a special blend of hops to "create a smooth, intense blast of tropical flavors." A double dose of dry hops "just before launch sends the aroma into a higher orbit."
Remar wanted a beer that would capture the concept of the space race — the Cold War competition that pitted the United States and Soviet Union in a race to the moon — but, more importantly, tied into something unique in the beer industry.
"That's when Steven Petermann [Salt City's owner] had the idea of using Galaxy and Mosaic hops in the beer, to kind of tie the space theme together," said Remar. "We chose the Hazy IPA because it is popular and it is not really seasonal. You can drink it year round."
The Space Race label, which was developed with the help of Howerton+White, an advertising and marketing agency in Wichita, features a rocket launching atop a plume that resembles the cone-shaped flowers, or hops, that give beer its flavor. The label also includes space history trivia, from the size and weight of the world's first satellite to the expected longevity of the Apollo astronauts' bootprints.
A line of similarly styled merchandise offers the same artwork on t-shirts, hats and glass tumblers. A portion of the proceeds from the beer and the products will go to supporting the Cosmosphere and its programs.
"We talked about it internally and think that the proceeds going towards our camp scholarship fund would be the best use," said Remar.
Salt City Brewing is currently only licensed to distribute its beers in Kansas, so for now, Space Race is only available via the brewery's tap room and then through various liquor stores and distributors across the state. On Monday (Jan. 24), the Cosmosphere is hosting a launch party for its members and donors, friends of the brewery and store owners to get their first taste of Space Race Hazy IPA.
The beer is not intended as a limited edition, though.
"We anticipate that this will be a long-term partnership and run," Remar said. "If it grows in popularity and if Salt City's other labels grow in popularity, I would anticipate that the brewmaster would look at expanding his reach. We have talked to him about doing limited runs honoring anniversaries and or special events here at the Cosmosphere."
That could include the Cosmosphere's own 60th anniversary gala, scheduled for early December, when astronauts and others who took part in the real space race are expected to be at the museum.