Collab conjures up commemorative FA Cup ale

HOP FIELD 1871 will be available from Hitchin Town FC's Canary Club at the start of September

HOP FIELD 1871 will be available from Hitchin Town FC's Canary Club at the start of September, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup - Credit: Hitchin Town FC

Hitchin Town Football Club has teamed up with Letchworth's Garden City Brewery to celebrate 150 years of the FA Cup, in the form of a limited edition brew.

Garden City Brewery Letchworth logo

Hitchin Town and IDNet have teamed up with Letchworth's Garden City Brewery to create a special edition ale, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup - Credit: Garden City Brewery

Alongside internet service provider IDNet, the celebratory ale has been specially crafted by volunteers from the three organisations.

Hitchin Town's commercial manager Mick Docking said: “Not a lot of people know this, but it’s highly likely that the first ever recorded FA Cup match to kick off was Hitchin Town vs Crystal Palace back in 1871.”

The FA Cup is the oldest national football competition in the world - and Hitchin was one of just 15 teams which played in the inaugural contest.

Volunteers got stuck into the ale-making process at Garden City Brewery, including Hitchin Town Football Club's Alan Clark

Volunteers got stuck into making the FA Cup anniversary ale at Garden City Brewery, including Hitchin Town Football Club's Alan Clark - Credit: Hitchin Town FC

“It’s a way for us to generate some extra revenue for the club, engage with local firms and have some fun along the way," Mick continued. 


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"IDNet kindly provide the broadband here at Top Field and they were our partners in hosting previous local cider and cheese festivals. We reached out to Garden City Brewery and a recipe for the ale was hatched."

In honour of the cup's longstanding and rich history, hop varieties and ingredients readily available back in 1871 were carefully selected. After doing some research, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles were chosen, along with some Challenger.

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This month, the enthusiastic team met at the Garden City Brewery to roll up their sleeves and prepare the mash.

Brewer Nick Rolfe welcomed volunteers from IDNet and Hitchin Town to the brewery to create the ale, with all hands on deck.

Garden City Brewery's Nick Rolfe explains the brewing process, while crafting the special FA Cup anniversary ale

Garden City Brewery's Nick Rolfe explains the brewing process, while crafting the special FA Cup anniversary ale - Credit: Hitchin Town FC

“First we got everyone stirring in the grain, this took about 15 minutes of continuous paddling and was followed by a 75-minute mash."

He explained that 'mashing' is the term given to the start of the brewing process, where crushed grains are mixed with water to form a porridge-like mixture.

"Next came the messy part of transferring the wort into a giant kettle and scooping out the used grain. I was impressed how keenly and vigorously everyone got involved, not least because you need a decent level of fitness!

"The final piece of group participation was measuring out and adding the hops - followed by 60 minute boil."

The whole process took around five hours, and a well-earned pint of something pre-prepared was enjoyed by all afterwards.

IDNet’s director Tim Davies said: “When Mick told us about his plans to mark the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup, we quickly realised that it would combine three of our favourite things: Hitchin, football and ale. How could we not be involved in such a noble initiative?

IDNet's chief executive Tim Davies and marketing manager Andy Dec during the creation of the HOP FIELD 1871 ale

IDNet's chief executive Tim Davies and marketing manager Andy Dec mid paddle during the creation of the HOP FIELD 1871 FA Cup anniversary ale - Credit: Hitchin Town FC

"Grass roots football and the true spirit of the FA Cup need to be celebrated now more than ever, so we hope the Football Association and other clubs make the most of the 150th celebrations.”

Hitchin Town and IDNet canvassed their social networks for name suggestions for the special brew and, after much deliberation - and some chuckles - the winner was announced as HOP FIELD 1871.

Mick explained: “It’s a play on our home ground of Top Field and incorporates the commemorative date.”

Hitchin Town Football Club was founded in 1865, and played in the first ever FA Cup in 1871

Hitchin Town Football Club was founded in 1865, and played in the first ever FA Cup in 1871 - Credit: Hitchin Town FC

HOP FIELD 1871 will be available to purchase in the Canary Club bar at Hitchin Town FC from the first week of September, to coincide with the launch of the 150th anniversary of the Emirates FA Cup.

All proceeds will go to support club development.

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