Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon brewer Matt Cole is headed to England on Friday to brew a special batch of beer at Shepherd Neame, the oldest brewery in the country. Cole, along with five other U.S. brewers, were invited to visit England and make a beer.
"They place us in a brewery and then we take it from there," Cole said. "We design the beer and we name it." He plans to make Yakima Sun, a 5 percent alcohol beer with Citra and Centennial hops from the U.S. and British barley. The Citra hops, grown exclusively in the Pacific Northwest, had to be shipped over to England at a cost of $3,300. Citra hops have "a lot of tropical fruit, passion fruit, almost mango-gooseberry kind of flavors," Cole said. "It's very distinctive. It's a very unusual hop." The blend of Citra and Centennial hops provides a lot of hop flavor and aroma, but people won't "get whacked over the head by the pure raw bitterness."
Cole said he's thrilled at the chance to brew at the family-owned Shepherd Neame, which dates back to 1698. The brewery still has wooden mash vessels. "The history is absolutely amazing," he said. "It's almost like walking back in a time warp. It's really fantastic. I'm more excited about the actual history. And they've got me staying in this 250-year-old guest house."
The beer will be cask conditioned and available only on draft at pubs. Shepherd Neame controls about 360 pubs in the country and the owners hope to generate interest by releasing a beer made by an American brewer. Its brands include Spitfire, Bishops Finger and Master Brew. Since Yakima Sun won't be ready for release until at least the end of September, Cole isn't sure if he'll be back to England to actually taste it. But he does have plans to brew the same beer at Fat Head's in North Olmsted and release it during the upcoming Cleveland Beer Week.