This evening, Dave Yarrington (Smuttynose's Director of Brewing Operations) and I will shuffle down to Logan Airport to depart for a week-long business trip/beer geek dream adventure.
We've got a number of destinations, but our core destination is the town, Devizes (Deh-vi-zis), "Wiltshire's Hidden Gem." This small town of 11,000 people is home to the Wadworth Brewery where Dave is brewing a single batch of a new beer called " 'Murrican Mild" that will be sold exclusively in JD Wetherspoon's pubs around the UK. We'll tell you more about the beer in another post (here's hoping for abundant, free wi-fi), so for now, I'll explain a little more about this trip.
The Wetherspoon's pub chain has over 835 outlets around the UK and is known for low prices, long opening hours and for its strong support of British craft beer, a.k.a. "real ale." In an effort to bring something unique to their chain-wide real ale festivals, Wetherspoon's began flying in brewers from around the world to brew guest beers in the UK for sale exclusively in their own pubs. This is a pretty remarkable way to get a delicious, international array of craft beers that aren't imported into the UK and Smuttynose is very proud and excited to be part of the 2012 festival. You certainly wouldn't say "no" either.
I'm not sure how many years they've been doing this program, but I do recall some of the other brewers who've gone over in the past. Tonya Cornette (Bend Brewing Company and only female winner of Brewmaster of the year at the World Beer Cup), Matt Brynildson (Firestone Walker), Toshi Ishii (ex-Stone and current Ishii) and last but not least, our friend Mitch Steele (Stone). As you can see, we're joining a pretty great list of brewers and rightfully so (thanks Mitch).
All conceits aside, this is great opportunity to represent not only US craft beer, but New England and New Hampshire as well.
We'll be joined by a few other international brewers participating in the fest. Kjetil Jikiun from Nøgne Ø (seriously, can anyone tell us how to pronounce that?), a brewer from Russia and Richard Chennells from Zululand in South Africa, with whom I graduated the American Brewers Guild Program. While not everyone will be brewing at Wadworth, our paths will be crossing at some point and I'm sure that'll involve pints and pictures.
Stay tuned for updates both here and on our Facebook page. We'll be posting throughout our journey if you'd like to follow along. Wadworth is one of the finest examples of Victorian tower breweries in the UK, so that'll be a particularly photo heavy post.
Until next time, Cheers!