Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson is an avid traveler – from spending a year abroad in Belgium learning new-world and old-world brewing techniques, to visiting hop farms and brewery friends in faraway countries, Matt’s got the travel itch and we all benefit from the new ideas he brings back to our brewery.

So while the pandemic limited his travel plans Down Under to visit friends and fellow brewers at Balter Brewing Company, it couldn’t break Matt’s spirit for innovation. Together, the two breweries decided a virtual collaboration was a great way to partner for this limited-release West Coast IPA and celebrate Balter’s 5th birthday.

Scott Hargrave (Balter) and Matt Brynildson at the Firestone Walker Paso Robles brewery (when collabs were done in person)

A Friendship Formed Over Beer

“I first met Matt while judging beer in Sydney several years ago,” said Balter’s head brewer Scott (Scotty) Hargrave. “We judged together then went bowling and drinking beers and hit it off. Matt then flew up to our brewery and stayed in my hometown of Byron Bay for a couple of days.

A few months later I went and stayed with Matt and his lovely family and he showed me around Paso Robles, the Firestone Walker brewery and a few of the other breweries in the area. We drank beers (and tequila), played bocce and listened to old AC/DC on vinyl. Next thing you know, Matt invited us to pour beers at the FWIBF 2019 and also asked me to brew a collab beer at the Propagator in Venice with him while we were in the US on that visit.

Both experiences are what I would call career highlights for sure. When it came time to think of the brewers and breweries that should be on our 5th birthday collab list, Matt and Firestone Walker were on the shortlist from the start. I admire Matt not only as a phenomenal brewer but even more as a genuinely top bloke and a great mate (as we would say down here)..he’s humble, he’s hilarious and very generous with his expertise and his fancy rare beers. Firestone Walker is not only an outstanding brewery, but they are kindred spirits and inspirational to all of us here at Balter.”

Brewing together at the Propagator R&D brewhouse in Venice

Brewing Balter’s 5th Birthday Collaboration IPA

“For the collab, we spent a good couple of hours catching up in general on a Zoom call, adds Scotty. “We’d had a couple of chats while Matt was in Belgium, just checking in on each other, and fitting in a couple of Zoom beers. So, it was pretty easy to formulate the recipe in between asking each other what’s up and telling funny stories. It made me wish we could have done all this in person even more…

Somehow during the call, we stumbled across the fact that I’d brewed a couple of beers named after Soundgarden songs and Matt said, “hey I jumped in the car this morning and was cranking Soundgarden on the way to work”…funnily enough after our Zoom finished, I jumped in my car and headed to Balter Brewery and Soundgarden’s “Fell on Black Days” came up randomly on the playlist. I guess I took that as a sign for the name of our beer…just tweaked to “Fell on Dank Days”. Matt loved it and so do I.

The beer is a super limited keg run and is available only at our taproom in Currumbin, Australia right now and a single keg going to The Great Northern Hotel in Melbourne.”

Scotty on the job repping a Firestone Walker tee

“We brewed a fairly classic West Coast IPA,” adds Scotty. “Just a banging solid beer that we would both enjoy brewing and drinking together if we had been able to do so in person. When I first hit Matt up, I had a couple of different suggestions but also on that list was a WC IPA and we gravitated to that fairly quickly. One of my themes was that the collab beer would be something that we would want to drink together if we were able.

At the end of the day if I had a chance to make and drink an IPA with Matt, well that’s gonna suit me just fine….I had a fairly similar malt bill to our previous collab and some hop varieties that Matt hadn’t used much before initially and he wanted a good whack of Simcoe and Mosaic to bring the dank. I then suggested we tag team some Aussie and Kiwi hops with the US classics in the dry-hop and away we went…..I think we enjoy and appreciate similar types of beers and I was pretty confident he’d like this one.”

Happy 5th Birthday Balter Brewing!

“A massive thank you to Matt Brynildson for making time for this collab,” said Scotty. “I was stoked at his reaction when I asked him to be part of the collab and I can’t wait to get back over to Paso Robles and see all the awesome Firestone Walker crew again. Looking forward to pouring some more Balter beers at FWIBF 2022!”