In 2003, Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski and Greg Koch formed BUFF, Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor.

In 2003, Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski and Greg Koch formed BUFF, Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor.


Then, the presidents of three small craft breweries -- Calagione's Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware, Covaleski's Victory Brewing Co. in Pennsylvania and Koch's Stone Brewing Co. in San Diego, Calif., held a press conference to discuss the lack of flavor in mass-produced beer and the lack of attention that craft brewers were getting.


Only one person from the media showed up to the event: Jaime Magee, who writes for Yankee Brew News.


"It was about the oppression of the mega producers and struggling young brewers trying to forge a path," Covaleski said. "It definitely embodied our feelings, but it was amped up. We were not daunted by this."


Flash-forward to the present day and they are back together again, running three of the most popular and successful craft breweries in the country.


"There has been a genesis, a journey, since 2003 for all three of our breweries," said Covaleski. "We clown around and joke about the same sophomoric bull----, but now we've been pulled into being mature and responsible businesses owners."


However, at least for a little while, they are reliving those times from 2003. Calagione, Covaleski and Koch have come together again to brew a special beer, the Saison du BUFF.


"I think we were all around at the GABF (Great American Beer Fest) in Colorado when we ran into each other," said Koch. "Somebody, I think Sam, said, 'You, me and Bill have to get together again. Dude, we should do a beer."'


"I'm really proud of the whole project," said Calagione. "I have great respect for Bill and Victory, and Greg and Stone."


They got together originally to decide what to brew.


"We don't live in a cave," Covaleski said. "We realize there are some big expectations for our breweries, and for us to bring something to the table. It was quite a challenge."


"All three of us have our own reputations that are all over the map," Koch said. "Sam is known for being a little bit wacky. I'm known for being more hop-centric and Bill is a little more balanced. We didn't want to just do an 'extreme beer' that was flavorful but not unique."


Calagione suggested they brew a saison, which neither Dogfish Head nor Stone brew. Koch said he always wanted to brew a beer with sage. From there, they decided to go along with the sage and to add rosemary, thyme and parsley.


"There was never any tension trying to decide what to do," Calagione said. "It was a great time."


The beer will be a 6.8 percent alcohol by volume saison, a Belgian-style ale that is a popular food pairing choice. The addition of the fresh herbs make it even seem more suited for food than many other saisons.


"It makes me hungry," Covaleski said. "It's the perfect food beer."


Koch said, "It's my favorite new beer. I've been drinking a bunch this week. It's not like the seasoning you'd have on your food. We used all fresh herbs. It was fun to do it and, to be honest, I think we nailed it."


Also different than most collaboration ales, the Saison du BUFF will be brewed at all three breweries, allowing for a wider distribution. The Stone version brewed on March 4. Dogfish Head will brew its version on June 6, and Victory will make its ale on June 10.


Each will be available in 12-ounce bottles.


"One of the neat things is that even though the three releases will technically be the same, there will be some nuances, some character differences from being brewed at the different places," Covaleski said.


Koch said he is excited about the positive press the Saison du BUFF is receiving.


"The reason we had the first press conference was because we were really trying to highlight the craft beer industry, because it wasn't getting the attention it deserved in the mainstream media," he said. "It's changed a lot now, I'm happy to say."


Norman Miller is a MetroWest Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail nmiller@cnc.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.