Brewers Insights Thornbridge Collaboration with Firestone Walker Pondera and Hop Timings

Posted on 2nd October 2020

Hello, today I am drinking Pondera, it’s a 6.7% West Coast IPA collaboration with Thornbridge in the UK and Firestone Walker in the U.S.

When I became hooked on hop forward beer back in the late 2000’s there were many breweries that I was just desperate to try their beer, all hailing from the US West Coast, breweries such as Stone, Ballast Point, Dogfish Head and Alesmith. I was, indeed still do, listen to the The Brewing Network podcasts and they were talking about how amazing the beers produced by these breweries we but we just couldn’t get hold of them.

Actually this is what made me, and many others like me get into brewing, we just couldn’t get hold of the beers that we wanted to explore. So we had a good stab at brewing them ourselves.

Thornbridge Brewery in Bakewell were hugely ahead of their time when they released Jiapur back in 1995 and to be honest, I hadn’t realised just how long ago they had released it, but what a great collaboration with both breweries defining beer styles in their domain. Also the head brewer at Firestone Walker Matt Brynildson uses some influences from British brewing history in his own beer.

They don’t give away anything for the malt bill on the can or the website but they do name the hops, we have:-

Idaho 7 about 12% Alpha adding stone fruit and I suspect that this is the first kettle addition

Mosaic about 12% Alpha, really complex mango and blueberry

Cashmere about 8% Alpha More citrus and spice

El Dorado about 14% Alpha Bringing more tropical sweetness

Simcoe about 13% Alpha and is where the piney / resin flavour comes from


Traditionally hops were categorised as a bittering or aroma or perhaps a dual purpose variety. It wouldn’t have been heard of to use a high alpha variety late in the boil or for dry hop.

Now this has really been superseded with very few varieties used for just one purpose.

I suspect that actually there was a small hop addition at the start of boil on this beer but that vast majority were used in the whirlpool and for dry hop.

As a brewer at home it is good to take a look at exactly what you are aiming for when crafting a recipe. If it is big hop flavour such as this beer, save your juicy, punchy hops for use where they deliver their flavour best, late and dry hop. If you want an up front bittering hop use a variety that is clean and economical, perhaps Magnum or Columbus.

For an up front bittering charge there is another route that can be taken, we have a hop product called FLEX, Flex is very easy to use, it is made from pure hops and delivers just about the cleanest bittering available. By clean, I mean it is just the bitterness sensation, no flavour what so ever, this allows your late and dry hops to really shine through.

Checkout the West Coast IPA hop kit that we have listed, it includes all the hops that were used in this beer plus a bottle of Flex, we will be really interested in what you can craft.

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