Beer Traveling Back to the 1850s

Carillon Historical Park, in Dayton, Ohio, provides an opportunity to taste beers from the 1850s. One of the park’s 30 buildings houses the Carillon Brewing Company, which uses historically accurate, mid-19th-century techniques. Visitors can enjoy traditional German food and other offerings at the brewery’s restaurant; while eating, they can watch employees and volunteers feed the fires, ladle the beer, and fill the barrels.

Carillon’s ales, made using techniques that predate refrigeration and mechanization, have a traditional sourness that some will consider an “acquired taste.” (Those who like the beer can buy growlers to take home.) The brewery’s flagship product is a coriander ale made from an 1830s recipe. Another Carillon beer, a porter, is made with malt hand-roasted over the fireplace coals; and because yeast strains vary seasonally, it will taste different throughout the year.

Most Influential Beers of All Time

A website called FirstWeFeast.com recently convened a panel to choose the 20 “most influential” beers of all time.” It didn’t take long for Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, to file a dissenting opinion.

Never one to mince words, Cornell called the selections “a totally crap list, with far, far more misses than hits.” The hits include Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which inspired the “lite” beers that dominate America’s beer scene; Pilsner Urquell; and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Heading the list of notable misses are Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, Allagash White, and Sam Adams Utopias.

Cornell goes on to list his 20 Most Influential list. Topping the list is Spaten Dunkel because brewmaster Gabriel Sedlmayr’s lagering techniques, and the yeast he shared with other European breweries, powered the lager revolution the swept the world. Pilsner Urquell is second, followed by Hodgson’s East India Pale Ale, which inspired Bass Pale Ale. Cornell gives the number-four spot to Sir Humphrey Parsons, of the Red Lion Brewery in London, for his porter that everybody else copied. Rounding out the top five is Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout, the first brewery known to have made this style.

You get the idea. Cornell is a beer historian, and to him “influential” has a specific meaning: the size of the effect it had on subsequent beer history. By that criterion, Budweiser earns a spot in his top ten: “It pioneered national beer distribution around the US, and it set the standard for what American beer was expected to be.” That’s influential.

The Friday Mash (Major Medical Edition)

Today is Doctors Day, a day set aside to honor physicians. It marks the date in 1842 on which Dr. Crawford W. Long of Jefferson, Georgia, administered ether to a patient before removing a tumor from his neck. The patient said he felt nothing and wasn’t aware the surgery was over until he awoke.

And now….The Mash!

What would Jesus brew? They’re answering that question in Wilmington, North Carolina, where church-based homebrewing teams are facing off in the Heavenly Homebrew Competition of Churches for Charity.

Opening Day is almost upon us, and that happy prospect inspired the New York Times’s Eric Asimov to write about baseball and his favorite springtime beer–namely, porter.

In the Southwest, “beer run” refers to someone who grabs a case of beer at a convenience store, then walks out without paying. El Paso, Texas, the nation’s beer run capital, reported 2,876 such thefts last year.

Jeff Alworth, who blogs at Beervana, has a troubling thought. Young men aren’t joining monasteries; so if the monks can’t replenish their ranks, could we face the extinction of Trappist ales?

Watch out, beer bloggers. Boak and Bailey, who also blog, have figured you out. They’ve arranged you on a spectrum, and only three of their seven blogger categories are labeled “We like.”

Someone with GIF skills, and access to behind-the-scenes footage of Star Wars, invented a scene in which Princess Leia hands Luke Skywalker a beer. If you’ve blown up the Death Star, you’ve earned one.

FInally, Pete Brown isn’t a doctor, but knows a misdiagnosis when he sees one. He recently gave British anti-alcohol campaigners an earful over their blaming beer for an increase in liver disease.

Today’s History Lesson: Porter

Martyn Cornell’s latest post on his blog, The Zythophile, deals with the history of porter. He dismisses another bit of beer folklore–namely, that the style was invented in 1730 by a brewer by the name of Harwood–and turns instead to Volume III of Dr Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1830). Here’s an excerpt:

About the beginning of the eighteenth century a malt liquor called entire butt was much in use; and afterwards a variety called brown stout: these were heavy, strong drinks; and about the middle of the eighteenth century they began to give place to a liquor the brewing of which was then much improved, and which happened to be, as Malone informs us, in great request amongst the street porters of London; hence it obtained the name of porter….

The secret of inducing sudden old age on an infant brewing of porter was soon found out; and the method of making best old London porter in a fortnight, was to mix porter that had become sour, in a certain quantity, with fresh drink….

At present the public taste has undergone a new revolution, and nothing but a full, sound, fresh, dark-coloured porter will be relished.

Makes you want to jump in the car, drive the your local brewpub, and bring home a growler of it.

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