It started out as bar talk. Two guys having a beer and shooting the breeze on a Tuesday afternoon. One, Sean O’Connor, owns a brewery, Flat12 Bierwerks and loves IndyCar. The other, James Hinchcliffe, is an IndyCar driver who loves beer. They were set up by their accountant, Brent Cox, who thought they’d hit it off. They did.
And that’s how the Hinchtown Hammerdown beer was born.
“He and I just had a beer or two together. And I said, ‘Hey, you know what? Let’s do a Canadian Lager.’” That’s how O’Connor remembers it.
“It was just kinda like, ‘You know what would be fun for the month of May?’” Is how Hinchcliffe tells it.
But it wasn’t just talk. Because…they did it. They crafted a beer for the month of May. And it was good. So, the next year, they decided to sell it during the whole racing season.
Then, O’Connor says, one thing led to another. “Eventually, it morphed into putting it into bottles, putting it into cans, and we just announced (Thursday) that we’re going international and this beer is going up to Toronto. So, you’ll see that come next month for the race.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. James Hinchcliffe will return to his hometown for the Honda Indy Toronto on June 14th as the mayor of Hinchtown (his social media world), the driver of the No. 5 car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and the namesake of a beer.
“My friends back home, you tell them you race IndyCars for a living and they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’ I tell them I have my own beer, they’re like, ‘No way, dude! That’s awesome!’”
–James Hinchcliffe, IndyCar driver and beer aficionado
Hinchcliffe says his goal all along was to come up with something race fans could drink at the track.
“I love Indianapolis,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s a lot of your domestic-light-beer-drinking people in this part of the world. And I really wanted to try and make something to bridge that gap a little bit as well. It’s something that the craft beer aficionados could appreciate and understand, but that your domestic beer drinkers would also be able to drink without feeling like they just had a turkey dinner.”
And seeing as “Canadians don’t mind a beer or two,” (his words) Hinchcliffe is hoping the beer buzz created in Canada will be a bonus for the Verizon IndyCar series.
“There’s a lot of IndyCar fans. There’s a lot more beer fans. So, we hope this turns some of those just beer fans into beer and IndyCar fans.”
The name Flat12 is a reference to the flat, 12-cylinder engine of an IndyCar. Asked whether he’ll be driving a Flat12 Bierwerks car some day, Hinchcliffe responded, “That would be pretty awesome. We’re working on that. This is baby steps.”
An introduction that launched an unexpected bromance for Flat12 Bierwerks’ Sean O’Connor and IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe has produced a partnership. O’Connor says the secret to their success is simple. “He and I have just done this thing organically all along. We’ve got great liquid. He’s got great talent.”
A match made in heaven.
And it all started over a beer.