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Exclusive Beer for Wetherspoon available for American Independence Day

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

About a month ago we had a visit from Matt Brynildson, the Brewmaster at Firestone Walker. If you’ve not heard of Firestone before then trust me when I say they are one of the very best breweries in America, if you don’t trust me then you can of course do your own research and you’ll find that they’ve been voted the best mid-sized brewery at the World Beer Cup an astonishing 4 times. Matt was over to brew a beer with us for Wetherspoons. The beer was 5% abv and was to be called Independence Pale Ale, it was loosely based on their multi-award winning Union Jack IPA. We had sorted out most of the recipe beforehand and after some searching we’d managed to find the hop varieties that we needed for the beer. It is fair to say that this was the highest amount of hops we put into a beer so it did make us think a little differently about how we were going to brew it. Matt arrived with his wife, Alison and 3 month old son, Teo. I think Matt had been flying around the world for the best part of a month attending various beer competitions and awards, so Alison was keen to make sure he caught on with nappy changing and the only way to do that was to come over with him. I can't imagine taking my son across the Atlantic when he was 3 months old, but they handled it all with ease. Although, when they said they had a lot of luggage they weren’t joking. Anyway, back to the brew. Matt’s brewhouse in California is very similar to ours which helped to get up to speed quickly, we made some tweaks and the recipe was all set. The final sticking point was whether to use our own in-house yeast strain our use something a bit more neutral. We decided in the end to go with ours on the basis that it was a collaborative brew and it would be interesting to see how the beer played out when using the Adnams yeast strain (Thanks for the advice David). While the brew was running off we took a quick trip to Simpsons Maltings in Tivetshall, which is about 25 miles from Southwold. We used some Simpsons malt in the brew and Matt imports some Simpsons malt for his beer so we thought it would be good to get to see the maltings while he was over. After a great trip with Peter Simpson we got back to finish off the brew. The Anchor, WalberswickWe then headed out to The Anchor in Walberswick to have a bite to eat and Mark and Sophie looked after us fantastically well. Mark is extremely well-known in the beer world, if I ever mention that I met the head brewer of some American brewery Mark usually informs me that he knew them when they started out, or is godfather to their first born, or once donated a kidney etc, ok not quite, but he knows a lot of people. So it’s always fun to take brewers out to see Mark. We usually get to delve into Marks beer cellar and pull out some fantastic and rare beers. The following morning we brewed a second batch of the beer and then that afternoon Matt and family headed down to London for a few days before flying back to California. I had tasted some Firestone beers before and was really impressed so it was a real pleasure meeting Matt and his family. The beer is now on in Wetherspoons pubs for Independence Day and I think it has turned out fantastically well. It has a really deep but rounded hop character, full of juicy grapefruit and tropical notes. If you’re passing a Wetherspooons today then why not try it out. There is only one cask per pub though so I can't guarantee it won't all be gone by the time you get in there.


Fergus Fitzgerald