Wild Horse Brewing, American Wheat
In 2011, Dave Faragher brewed his first batch of beer on the balcony of a 24th floor apartment in downtown Calgary. He used a homebrew IPA kit his brother had bought him for his 30th Birthday. “It was particularly challenging when the wind blew and the temperature dropped to -30C” laughs Dave.
By 2014 he had picked up three golds and one bronze medal at a national Canadian homebrew competition. He had found his calling. The only thing was, home was calling too.
On returning to the UK, Dave spent 3 months studying at Brewlab in Sunderland, to learn all about commercial brewing, and armed with a Diploma in British Brewing Technology, he and his wife Emma headed to Llandudno in North Wales, where they had both grown up, to set up Wild Horse Brewing in 2015.
They started with a teeny weeny one barrel kit (allowing them to produce about 500 bottles at a time) but after cobbling together a quarter of a million pounds from their life savings, local investors and Welsh government grants, they expanded to a 10-barrel kit and grew their small, close-knit team. Dave’s wife Emma looks after the numbers whilst juggling another job. Chris Holyfield looks after sales, whilst Chris Wilkinson and Ryan Hazeldine work with Dave on the brewing side.
The fruits of their labour include three core beers (a blonde ale, a pale and a porter) which are technically spot on and great examples of their style, whilst catering for a fairly conservative clientele in North Wales. There are also an increasing number of more playful and innovative beers brewed for their seasonal and experimental series. This week’s beer, the American Wheat, is one of those and is probably unlike anything else brewed in this part of the world.
Inspired by Dave and Emma’s thirteen years of touring craft breweries in North America, the beer is made with 50% wheat and 50% barley, with a stack load of American West Coast hops. The yeast is from San Diego. The water is from Snowdonia. The resulting mash up is light and refreshing, with a hint of funky yeast esters and a big hit of tropical fruit.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the name. Wild Horse HQ is only a few miles from Conwy mountain and the neighbouring Carneddau mountains of Snowdonia. This area is home to what is believed to be the only truly wild population of horses in the UK. These horses have been roaming the local hills for centuries. King Henry VIII even ordered the feral native ponies to be destroyed, because they could not carry a knight in full armour, but thanks to their hardiness and the endeavours of generations of local hill farmers, the population has survived to this day. You get the impression that the brewery created in their name will become just as permanent a fixture in these parts.