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Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Albion Brewing Company- New Albion Ale

Time to drink in a bit of beer history friends.

Thanks to Jim Koch and the fine folks at Samuel Adams, who recreated this beer for people like us, we can now experience THE beer that started the craft beer movement in the United States.

How's that for hype?

New Albion was started in 1976, by Jack McAuliffe, a Navy Veteran back from Europe who was hoping to create the quality beers that he enjoyed while in Europe here in the states. To give you an idea of working conditions he was dealing with, there were only 44 breweries in the entire country at this time, and no one was manufacturing or selling small batch brewing equipment. (Today, there are more than 44 breweries in Massachusetts alone). Jack was up against it. Supplies were tough to come by- he had to brew using only Cascade hops, as that was all that was available to him at the time. His equipment was handmade. He lived in the brewery. This was a beer guy before there were beer guys.
New Albion Ale no longer exists, it closed in 1982. However, thanks to Jim Koch, who tracked down Jack, (and the original strain of yeast used to brew the original New Albion Ale!), we can enjoy a bit of brewing history ourselves.

For more information on New Albion Ale, check the Sam Adams web site, or The Oxford Companion to Beer (pg 606, to be specific) by Garrett Oliver

New Albion Ale
New Albion Brewing Company (as recreate by the Boston Beer Company)
6% ABV

 New Albion pours a moderate yellow gold, with a low thin head of white foam that collapses and dissipates quickly.

The smell is yeasty/bready up front. I was immediately taken back to my college days, and memories of drinking BMC beer. I couldn't detect a hint of hops.

Mouthfeel is light and pleasant, carbonation is moderate, no surprises.

Taste follows the smell- sort of yeasty and bready up front, followed by a slight hop bitter follow through and a very slightly sour/bitter finish. I didn't find this to be a complex flavor profile by any means. It tastes like beer. Good beer.

An absolutely fascinating beer. Keep in mind, this recipe is from 1976, and while the flavor profile might seem meek to the modern craft beer palette, in 1976, this must have a hop bomb of flavor. It is a very sessionable brew, and I did enjoy it. I'd buy it again. It strikes me a great "gateway" beer for the non-craft beer drinker.

Enjoy this beer for what it is- the God Father of craft beer. If you're expecting to be knocked out by massive ABV, or a west coast style hop profile, you'll be disappointed. But if you can enjoy it in its proper historical context, you should be all the more appreciative of where the craft beer industry stands today.

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