Collaborating is part of who we are, or should we say, it’s part of who Brewmaster Matt Brynildson is.

Whether you’re a brewer at a major brewery or somewhere on the smaller scale, Matt treats the collaboration the same, just excited to have friends to talk craft beer with, come up with new ideas and learn a thing or two from each other.

That’s exactly what happened with our recent virtual collab with Westbound & Down Brewing Company in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Jake Gardner and fellow Westbound & Down brewers Phil Joyce, Alex Bakken and Derek Goodman

Last year, Jake Gardner, Eric Schmidt and fellow brewers were sitting around, six feet apart, brainstorming ideas to get people’s spirits up amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. With their love for west coast IPAs in mind, they came up with an idea to start the Western Conference All-Stars collab series.

“Eric was the inventor of this series concept and pushed it forward to fruition, says Jake. “We’re so thankful for his persistence because it’s turned into something we all look forward to during these uncertain times”.

Since the series inception back in May 2020, Westbound and Down have worked with several craft breweries on releasing limited west coast IPAs of all flavors and profiles.

“Matt literally wrote the book that inspired me to get into craft beer and formed my passion for the West Coast IPA style,” said Westbound and Down’s head brewer Jake. “It was a no-brainer to reach out to him about a possible collaboration.”

After Jake reached out the Matt and our Propagator brewer Sam Tierney, it was an easy decision to get involved – we do love our west coast IPAs at Firestone Walker after all…

The guys met virtually for a casual meet and greet that turned into over two hours of spitballing ideas, drinking beers, talking quality of hops and just appreciated good craft beer.

During the discussion, they talked through the Idaho 7 hop, a key hop used in our west coast IPA brewed for the Western Conference All-Stars collab series.

Jake explains that a key moment for him during the virtual brainstorm with Matt was learning more about the techniques used in brewing our Luponic Distortion IPA series. The two brewers discussed Luponic being a modern take on the classic West Coast IPA style – it’s a mix of hops we associate with being a standard West Coast but also introducing new flavors through experimental hops that take on a newer take on the style.

“It’s been a fun series so far. A way to socialize and build community with world-class breweries, adds Jake. “Matt is a legend to us, so brewing a beer with him was boarding on surreal. We learned a lot of techniques from him to make our own.”

Jake and the Westbound & Down brew team later got to work making the beer based on their virtual brainstorm with Matt. The beer is a mix of hops including Idaho 7, Cashmere and the experimental hop using in Luponic Distortion 17 giving hints of blueberry.

“Matt” made a special appearance to help out too.

For those living in Colorado, go check out Westbound & Down in Idaho Springs and give this exclusive beer a try. Thanks for letting us be part of the Western Conference All-Stars series.