Skip to main content
10th December 2012

Boilermaker named Brains’ Ultimate IPA

‘Thinking Drinkers’ Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham are the first winners of Brains ‘Ultimate Collaboration Beer Challenge’, after a judging panel deemed Boilermaker – a Welsh whisky infused beer – to be the best of seven IPAs.

Earlier in the year the Welsh brewer invited beer writers and bloggers to collaborate with them to develop and brew their ultimate IPA in Brains’ craft brewery. Alongside Ben and Tom, guest brewers were Simon Martin, Martyn Cornell, Tim Hampson, Melissa Cole and Marverine Cole.

While Brains handed guest brewers an IPA brief, they were free to come up with their own interpretation, and beers ranged from traditional, to American-style, to tropical.

Seven beers, including one from Brains’ head brewer, were independently blind judged at an event last week. Boilermaker, a 6.5% ABV IPA, came top with the judges, who identified a balanced but complex beer with an appetising bitter finish.


Ben and Tom said: “We wanted to brew something that reflected the Welsh surroundings of our brew, so we decided to create a whisky IPA. This saw us combine the Brains brewing expertise with whisky barrels selected from the Penderyn Whisky Distillery.


“Blending beer with spirits also doubled up as a reflection of the Thinking Drinkers expertise in beer, cocktail and spirits. Indeed the name comes from the serve of whisky with your ale. Judges loved the balance so if you’re not sure about whisky in your beer, rest assured it has a very delicate influence.”


Bill Dobson, Head Brewer at Brains, said: “The craft brewery has given us the opportunity to bring in guest brewers – which we have never before been able to do. It’s great to be able to draw on their knowledge and creativity to come up with a one-off beer.


“The collaboration beer challenge has been such a success that we’ll be making it an annual event. Next up, the ‘Ultimate Continental Beer Challenge’”.


Boilermaker is now available in cask in 30 Brains pubs. For a full list of stockists visit

Others beers in the challenge:

  • All at Sea – Brains’ entry
  • Barry Island IPA – Simon Martin, aka Real Ale Guide
  • Colonel Williams – Martyn Cornell
  • Triumphant – Tim Hampson
  • Fruits of our Labours – Melissa Cole
  • Destiny – Marverine Cole




For more information please contact Laura Overton on 029 2033 4762 or