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Local brewery collaboration drives excitement for London Bridge anniversary

October 14, 2018

Fifty years ago, the world watched as the first stone of the London Bridge was laid in Lake Havasu City. In U.S. History, there has been no other undertaking like it – and no other city like Havasu.

Three Havasu breweries are collaborating to celebrate the bridge’s 50th Anniversary in Havasu, while recognizing every aspect of what makes Havasu unique. College Street Brewhouse, Mudshark Brewery and Barley Bros. Brewery will release their new collaborative lager on Tuesday: Foundation 50.

“This collaboration started three years ago with their Bright Future Mandarin Pale Ale,” said Lake Havasu City Partnership for Economic Development Associate Director Tonya Krueger. “This year they want to celebrate the 50 years since that first stone was placed.”

Each can celebrates a high point in Lake Havasu City’s culture, Krueger said, decorated with something different that makes Havasu unique. With images of the lake, 1960s-style logos celebrating the London Bridge’s arrival, 1990s-themed logos celebrating Havasu’s surge to prominence in national media and even designs to celebrate the seasonal visitors who contribute to Havasu’s culture – the PED worked with all three breweries in crafting the artistic concept.

“We wanted to recognize and celebrate Robert McCulloch’s genius idea to buy the London Bridge, erect it in Havasu and turn it into a feature of the town,” Krueger said. “This town would be a much different place without it.”

When the state of Arizona gave multimillionaire entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch the land that would become Havasu, McCulloch made a promise to develop it. But the scope of McCulloch’s vision wasn’t what anyone was expecting. McCulloch purchased the London Bridge for nearly $2.5 million, and in 1967 paid for its transport from London to Arizona’s West Coast. The bridge’s reconstruction over the newly-furrowed Bridgewater Channel began in 1968, and was completed three years later.

“We also wanted to celebrate the lake as an economic driver of Havasu that’s been so popular with visitors and locals, with a photograph by Levi French” Krueger said. “And we wanted to pay tribute to Spring Break in the 90s. It was a cultural driver that really put Havasu on the map. It was a point where people really remember Spring Break in Havasu, when it was filmed on MTV.”

According to Krueger, the collaborative effort by the three breweries has strengthened them, and it speaks well for Havasu businesses.

“The beer is a product, but the real story is about local businesses coming together to celebrate McCulloch, the bridge, and the progress Havasu has made over the past 50 years.”

Employees at the breweries have seen excitement for Foundation 50 continue to rise as the product’s release date approaches. Jacquelyn Romero, who was born and raised in Havasu, is a manager at Mudshark Brewery.

“It’s definitely an honor to be a part of this,” Romero said. “All of the cans represent some part of Havasu, or the community itself. Everyone’s very excited to see them, and we have the cans on display in our bar. We’re expecting to sell out within the first four hours.”

Miz Jimenez, a manager at Barley Bros. Brewery, has lived in Havasu since 2004. “I think it’s a pretty good thing,” Jimenez said. “It’s good to have the recognition and to make people more aware of what Havasu has. We were one of the original breweries in Havasu, and it’s good to have other breweries coming together like this.”

According to Lake Havasu City Partnership for Economic Development Director James Gray, the effort speaks volumes for Havasu as a community.

“These breweries obviously create culture in Havasu,” Gray said. “They’ve come together for the greater good. We’re fortunate to have such an active craft brewing sector in Havasu, and it’s only growing. Everything people see was made locally – the beer, art, the graphics on the cans are all locally made … it really showcases how much impact these companies have had on our community for the past 20 years, and it’s a very innovative way of addressing all of the support Havasu has given them.”

Foundation 50 will be available starting Tuesday at Mudshark Brewery, Barley Bros. Brewery and College Street Brew House. Each brewery will hold a kick-off event for the collaborative beverage, which will only be available until the breweries’ stock has run out.

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