When Other Half Brewing Company reached out and asked us to collaborate on a pair of beers to celebrate their 8th Anniversary, we were happy to answer the call. Other Half has been making world-class IPAs, stouts, and lagers from their home in Brooklyn, NY, since their founding in 2014. Co-founders Sam Richardson, Matt Monahan, and Andrew Burman have changed the world of beer by pushing boundaries in all directions, and after years of hanging out at beer festivals, the time was finally right to collaborate.

We sat down with Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson and Other Half Co-Founder & Brewer Sam Richardson to hear their takes on collaboration, friendship, and Other Half’s two new releases — Pivo Snaps Lager and their 8th Anniversary Collaborative West Coast IPA.

Sam Richardson (left) and Matt Brynildson (right) chat at a BBQ during hop selection in New Zealand in 2019.

Collisions Down Under

Ingredients matter, and both Matt and Sam believe that choosing the best hops makes a huge difference in the quality of beer. So it was no surprise that the drive to select the best Southern Hemisphere hops put them on the same path in April 2019.

The first stop was the Hāpi Festival in New Zealand, dedicated to hop breeding, farming, and innovative use of hops to drive the growth of craft beer.

Matt shared: “We were both hop hunting. The Hāpi Festival brought hop-forward brewers from around the world together to New Zealand to talk about hops. It was really serious and we all got to visit some farms and network away from the big crows in addition to the beer festival. We spent some good time getting to know Sam and the Other Half world.”

Carrying on their mission searching for the best hops, Matt and Sam bumped into each other again during hop selection in the Yakima Valley in Washington state, and it only felt like a matter of time until a collaboration would happen.

Other Half x Firestone Walker Pivo Snaps Lager

Best-Laid Plans

To celebrate eight years of brewing, the Other Half team is collaborating with a slew of brewers, and Other Half was eager to pair up with Firestone Walker for a few beers. Unfortunately, Matt’s trip out east to brew was nixed due to COVID interference, so the collaboration and recipe development took place over emails, phone calls, and video chats.

First up was a riff on Firestone’s Pivo Pilsner and Other Half’s Snaps Rice Lager.

Pivo Snaps Lager

Brewers are passionate about lager beer, and it’s no different here.

This special beer is a mash-up of Other Half’s rice lager and Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pilsner. It was brewed with Bavarian pilsner malt and rice to give it a classic German malt profile, but with a slightly lighter body. Hopped with Hallertau Mittelfruh and Spalt Select in the early editions and then finished off with late additions of Saaz and Saphir hops in the whirlpool and Saphir in the dry hop. Saphir is a hop that both Poetry Snaps and Pivo Pils share as the main hop profile, and it is loved at both breweries for its delicate, tangerine-like citrus character, floral notes, and some mild spice. Lagered for over five weeks, the beer is crisp, aromatic, and refreshing.

But that’s wasn’t all.

“As it was fermenting, Sam was pinging me and asked, ‘What should we do next?’” Matt shared. “Well, Firestone’s west coast, so we’ve got to do a west-coast style.” The answer: A west coast IPA.

Other Half Brewing x Firestone Walker 8th Anniversary Collaborative West Coast IPA

8th Anniversary Collaborative West Coast IPA

This IPA uses 2-row and Maris Otter malt to give a light character with some complexity, and it was hopped with a mix of Pacific Northwest and New Zealand hops like Simcoe, Mosaic, Mosaic Cryo, Nelson Sauvin, and Motueka. A relatively dry and clear beer, it just soars with aromatics and flavor while staying refined and crisp.

“We talked about what’s foundational in a West Coast IPt IPA,” Matt said. “We agreed: Simcoe. It’s become a central piece of the best West Coast IPAs. I also really like the top notes of the Southern Hemisphere hops in these lighter-body West Coast IPAs. For me, that’s what I want to drink. Motueka is a really beautiful hop, and Sam’s found a place for it in his IPA portfolio, so I was amped to include that as well.”

Learn more about the 8th Anniversary Collaborative West Coast IPA here.