Beer brewers on both sides of the Channel are preparing to raise some very special glasses to mark the anniversary of Wigan’s town twinning.
Wigan Brewhouse, which recently started production in the old AllGates building in the town centre, is teaming up with the Brasserie Angevine in France to mark 30 years of the borough being linked to Angers.
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A team from Wigan, including the brewhouse’s head brewer Jonathan Provost, will head out to the Loire Valley next month to discuss the project with the beer creators at Brasserie Angevine.
The finished beer will then be presented to the residents of Angers in May, with a delegation heading out onto the continent for what is hoped will be a major celebration.
The following month Angevine’s head brewer will visit the brewhouse’s 19th-century graded tower building off Wallgate to brew a second anniversary creation with Jonathan and the rest of his team.
The idea came from Europe as Angers recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its twinning set-up with Pisa in Italy by making a collaborative beer and thought it would be a good way to celebrate the Wigan milestone as well.
Wigan Brewhouse founder Martin Blythe said: “The idea of doing a collaborative beer with a brewer in Angers has been going on for a while and it was something that was mentioned to me when we got the brewhouse started.
“We’ve rekindled the idea and now we’re going to make it happen.
“I think it’s a fantastic project, I’m quite excited about it. Obviously it’s good to get our name out there as a newly set up business.
“I don’t think cask ale travels to France that often so for myself and the staff this is a great opportunity to get more people to sample our beers.
“We’re not sure at the moment exactly what sort of beers we’re going to create with Angevine, but we’re maybe thinking about something lighter. Currently we’re passing a lot of emails around with lists of hops in them.”
Martin hopes to throw two significant parties to mark 30 years, with plans to take a Wigan band over to France for the presentation event to play alongside local talent.
He then wants to speak to Crawford Street community culture hub The Old Courts about hosting a beer launch for the ale made here with French input.
Wigan’s ambassador from Angers Martin Pouvreau has also played a key role getting the idea off the ground and is a big fan of the scheme.
Martin said: “I think this is a great way to celebrate the anniversary. Wigan and Angers have been twinned for 30 years and brewing a beer together is a great symbol of the link.
“Brasserie Angevine is a small, independent, local business in Angers town centre.
“English beer is a bit different to French but there are some similarities too. I think the beers they make together will be very popular.”