4 Hands Brewing Co. and Narrow Gauge Brewing Co. release first beer in 'Voltron' collaboration series

4 Hands Brewing Co. today, Friday, May 26, launches the first in a new series of Voltron collaboration beers created in cooperation with NBCUniversal and a number of breweries from around the United States. Voltron Volume One, a hazy IPA brewed in collaboration with Florissant-based Narrow Gauge Brewing Co., will be available on draft and canned from noon on May 26 at 4 Hands’ downtown brewery, with statewide distribution beginning over the next week. 

The Voltron collaboration will include six beers in total, to be released over the next two years. Each of the first five brews will represent one of the five lions that combine to form Voltron, and 4 Hands will collaborate with a different brewery on each release. For the finale, the participating breweries will join forces in true Voltron style, said 4 Hands owner Kevin Lemp, “bringing all these lions together to create the full Voltron character.” 

For Voltron Volume One, 4 Hands teamed up with Narrow Gauge, whose hazy IPAs have defined the category in the minds of many local drinkers. The next installment in the series will see 4 Hands collaborate with Nashville based Southern Grist Brewing Co., while the third volume will be a collaboration with Chicago brewery Hop Butcher For The World. The collaborations will cover a range of beer styles, with Lemp saying each release will be “wildly different” from the last.

The 7.5%-ABV Voltron Volume One was brewed using citra, mosaic and galaxy hops. According to 4 Hands’ tasting notes, Voltron Volume One also includes Omega Yeast’s Helio Gazer, a thiolized yeast strain that yields a flavor profile taking in notes of guava, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and stone fruit. 

“It's really juicy. A lot of really bright tropical and citrus flavors coming on the nose,” said Lemp. “It drinks really smooth. So big tropical, guava, mango, nice citrus notes. The yeast adds just a fun element that only that yeast can really add, a little sweetness on the back end.”

The 4 Hands collaboration is far from being the first St. Louis connection to the Voltron franchise. In fact, Voltron was created in 1984 by St. Louis-based World Events Productions, the production company owned by Bob Koplar’s late father, Ted. Ted Koplar and producer Peter Keefe adapted the show from several Japanese anime series, and Voltron went on to become one of the most iconic children’s shows of the 1980s. In recent years, a Netflix series has rebooted the Voltron franchise for a new generation of viewers. 

Lemp said getting the chance to create the Voltron series represented a “big nostalgia play” for a 1980s kid. “When we were presented with this opportunity from Bob Koplar and NBC Universal, I immediately got very excited,” he said. “When I was 11 years old, I'd get up on Saturday mornings, watch Voltron, VHS it and watch it again on Sunday.”

Voltron Volume One is currently available at 4 Hands’ downtown brewery, on draft and in four-packs. However, the beer will be more widely distributed starting next week, both on draft at local venues and in cans at local grocery stores. 

“It's unbelievably exciting,” Lemp said. “11 year-old Kevin is super excited that we were offered the opportunity, and 43 year-old Kevin is excited that we were able to put a beer label on a can!”