I’m a little behind schedule getting the info for this Wiedemann/Municipal collaboration – but cut me some slack, there’s a lot going on!
I first got a glimpse at the relationship between Wiedemann’s head brewer Steve Shaw (then with Cellar Dweller), and Municipal Brew Works’ head brewer Sean Willingham on an episode of Cincy Brewcast. Actually… it was two episodes of Cincy Brewcast. The guys joined us on Volume 1 – Episodes 38 and Volume 1, Episode 39 where they sat in studio with us well into the night to have a beer or two and talk about not just what their respective breweries were up to… but just to shoot the shit, have a beer and throwback to what it means to be a drinker.
I really want to get super nerdy and deep with this and try to tell you about the relationship that I can see between these guys, but I’ll leave it like this: It’s the type of brotherly love that craft beer thrives on. It’s what makes me confidently say that Cincinnati is home to one of the best craft beer communities, full of some of the best people. I got to see that firsthand during that show with them… you’ll get a glimpse in just a minute when you read the story behind the collaboration from Steve.
I’m not at all surprised to see these guys all get together to make this collaboration happen. I am a little surprised to see that the beer is a Hazy-as-hell NE IPA. It’s a style that none of them have tackled before (though… the brewing team at Municipal might have fired one off one day that Sean wasn’t there…). After reading the thought behind it all, though – it’s perfectly chosen.
‘WeZen The Juice’ was named because of the meaning of Zen, ‘living in the present and experiencing reality fully’. The name came because we, as Sean, Austin and I are living in the present and experiencing it fully by fulfilling dreams of being able to do what we truly love in brewing beer for a living.
The three of us are great friends brought together by our desire to brew beer. Sean Willingham was the first person I hired to work with me as a brewer. I hired Sean for two reasons: he was willing to work for free and he had a great selection of music on his iPod. Instantly a great friendship was born. Sean and I worked together for three years when one day Austin Smith walked into the brewery and offered to work for free also, and he had a great taste in music also – so that started the relationship between the three of us.
Shortly after Austin started Sean went off to work with his team to build and open Municipal Brew Works in Hamilton and Austin and I came to Wiedemann together to build the new brewery with Jon and Betsy Newberry.
It’s been close to three years since the three of us brewed together. We talked for many months about coming together on our first collaboration, and what to brew. We decided to brew a New England style IPA because it’s a beer none of us had ever brewed before and we wanted to step away from our comfort zone a little.
So WeZen The Juice was born.
I hope you enjoy the beer as much as we enjoyed being back together in the brewery again.
What makes collaborations special? Is it bringing breweries together that have groups of their own fans that you just know would appreciate the other brewery’s beer? Maybe it’s the idea that brewers enjoy pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and brewing things that they aren’t familiar with. The fun of collaboration might just be hanging out with people you respect and love – getting together making (and drinking) beer together.
If you want to know what makes collaborations special – take a long hard look at this one. Friends coming together, pushing each other a little outside of their comfort zones, and also bringing two breweries that have fans that would love what each other are doing. It’s beautiful.