Celebrating a Free Spirit

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By all accounts Brittney Fox Watts (ABJ ’07) was a free spirit, fond of traveling, flea markets, photography and vintage bikes. Her unexpected death left her husband, Brian Watts (BBA ’05, MBA ’07), and a large group of family and friends searching for a way to honor her memory. Enter Free Spirit, a farmhouse ale conceived by Brian, his brother Dustin Watts (BBA ’03) and Brittney’s brother Kevin Fox (AB ’06). It was a natural fit—Brian and Brittney had traveled often with Dustin and his wife, Terri Matthews Watts, and the couples always enjoyed sampling local offerings. So this fall Free Spirit was produced as a joint project between Athens-based Terrapin Beer Company, where Dustin is vice president of marketing and sales, and Baltimore-based Heavy Seas Beer, where Kevin works in sales.

To honor Brittney, they chose the style of beer that seemed the best fit. “Farmhouse ales are very free spirited,” Dustin says. “They have no real guidelines.” Brittney loved sunflowers, so they used sunflower seeds in the beer—“a complete experiment,” Dustin says. They also used elderflower to continue the flower theme. The label for Free Spirit is just as personalized. Created by 22squared, where Brittney worked, it includes a fox, a vintage bicycle with a gnome in the basket, a willow tree for her dog (who’s named Willow) and 22 sunflowers. A heart carved into the tree trunk includes Brittney and Brian’s initials, and the label also includes a quote from her blog. Even the description of the beer was tweaked to represent Brittney, with phrases like “big heart” and “beautiful soul” rendered in capital letters. Free Spirit was bottled in October, and the neck and cap were dipped in yellow wax. It was a small run of 200 cases, and distribution primarily was targeted for areas where Brittney and Brian lived—Atlanta, Tampa and Athens. “The beer turned out fantastic,” Dustin says. “There’s been no beer at the brewery that’s gotten more love.”

Editor’s note: Brittney Fox Watts died during a July shooting spree in midtown Atlanta.