Queen Victoria Walks into a Bar: Matching Beers and Historic Figures

A few weeks ago, we had award-winning author Tee Morris join us here on the Growler to pair beers with the characters in his novel. That got me thinking—Tee has a pretty good idea of what his characters might drink, but what about the historical figures that surround us here at Black Creek Pioneer Village? Plus, I enjoy matching people to beers they might like.

So, if one of our “people of the past” could choose any one of the beers we brew down in the Black Creek Historic Brewery, which would it be?

After some research, some pondering, and a few cackles, I think I’ve got some answers:

John A. MacDonald

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Here at Black Creek, we focus quite a bit on the 1860s, and you can’t get into 1860s Canadian history without talking about John A. MacDonald. Our first prime minister was also a notorious tippler—not perpetually drunk, but capable of astonishing binges. Apparently the governor-general sent more than one letter lamenting MacDonald’s tendency to periodically vanish on drinking sprees.

Since whisky seems to have been his beverage of choice, I’d pair Johnny with our Whisky Barrel-Aged Brown Ale. At 6% ABV, it’s slightly higher than most of our offerings, which I’m sure he’d appreciate (even if his liver wouldn’t). As well, the vanilla and oak flavours imparted by the aging process would probably hold great appeal!

Queen Victoria

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She lent her name to the time period. Her portrait hangs all through the village—including on the brewery wall. She helmed the era’s dominant power. We certainly need to think about Queen Victoria!

She was a hearty eater, a quick eater, and she had a sweet tooth. Though the upper classes were used to rich food, it seems her tastes were relatively plain. That being said, she was fond of fruits and tea-time treats. And so, I’d probably recommend our Raspberry Porter for our good Queen. Sweet and fruity, it’s a lovely dessert beer: not too heavy, and a good choice for those who don’t often drink beer (Victoria liked claret and whisky—combined).

The real question of course, is thus: would she be amused?

One hopes so.

Daniel Stong

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The Stongs were Pennsylvania German—go far enough back, and you’d probably find a few lager-lovers in the family. However, we only brew ales here at the Black Creek Historic Brewery.

As the owner of a fairly sizeable farm, Daniel Stong would have been accustomed to long hours of physical work. After a day in the fields, I think he would have appreciated a beer with some body to it, something rich and complex. At the same time, when you’re tired, you don’t necessarily want something too heavy—and I think he’d have liked something to quench his thirst, too.

Hence, the Rifleman’s Ration. It’s about the right time period, too: this beer commemorates the War of 1812, and Daniel and Elizabeth Stong built First House in 1816: the year after the war ended.

Rowland Burr

Rowland Burr lends his name to the village of Burwick, from whence our Burwick House hails. He was also a temperance advocate. He can have some mulled cider from the Half Way House kitchen.

Mary Thompson

Alexander and Mary Thompson were the husband-and-wife team that built and ran the Half Way House. Alexander died in 1867, whereupon Mary continued running things until her own death five years later. From medieval times, women have often been involved in brewing and tavernkeeping—after all, it’s largely domestic work. (I’ve said it before, and I shall say it again: bread and beer are both made from grains, water, and yeast—hops and process make up the difference.)

I think Mrs. Thompson would enjoy our Lemon Balm and Mint Pale Ale. It’s definitely a thirst-quencher (and you think Daniel Stong had it rough: domestic work is no less physical!), and in a strange way, the lemon balm and mint have always reminded me a bit of tea. The perfect pick-me-up!

Daniel Flynn

Step Behind Closed Doors: Weekdays at 12:30!

Step Behind Closed Doors: Weekdays at 12:30!

If you’ve been on our Behind Closed Doors tour, you’ve almost certainly seen Flynn House. The Flynns were an Irish family, boot and shoemakers by trade, who settled north of Yonge and Finch in the 1850s—a few years after the influx of Irish immigrants that resulted from the Great Famine.

Of course, the easy thing to do here is to recommend our Irish Potato Stout. Stout and potatoes, what could be more fitting?

I don’t like taking the easy way.

So, for Mr. Flynn, I’m recommending the Rye Pale Ale that we did two years back. Roggenbiers are specialty German beers, but rye beers have taken off amongst North American craft breweries, too. Adding rye malt to the grain bill introduces spicy flavours—reminiscent of rye breads, funnily enough. Some brewers push the hops, too, resulting in a really flavourful beer that keeps you on your toes: something I think Mr. Flynn would appreciate!

What do you think? What historical person would you most like to have a drink with, and what would you order for the two of you?

(I do think that Emily Brontë and I could get through a few of Sigtuna’s Midvinterblots…)

-Katie

 

 

 

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DegL, SRM, and EBC: A Brief Look at Beer Colour Scales

The long, dark days of winter are past…which means that the heavy, dark beers of winter are slipping away too! This winter, I fell in love with rich, complex stouts and porters—especially coffee ones. Highlights include the Mocha Macchiato Stout from Old Bust Head, the Midvinterblot (an imperial porter) from Sigtuna Brygghus, and the Old North Mocha Porter from the Lake of Bays Brewing Company.

At Old Bust Head, trying the Mocha Macchiato Stout. I adored this beer.

At Old Bust Head, trying the Mocha Macchiato Stout. I adored this beer.

Now, scanning the shelves of the LCBO, we’re moving back towards pale and amber ales. Which makes sense: a heavy, oatmeal stout does seem kind of out of place in warmer weather. But considering all this also got me thinking about another aspect of beer:

Colour.

Black Creek's Ginger Beer (returning this June!). A VERY different look than the stout, eh?

Black Creek’s Ginger Beer (returning this June!). A VERY different look than the stout, eh?

Beer really appeals to all the senses: we all know about appreciating taste, mouthfeel, and aroma, but what about the way your beer looks in the glass? On the one hand, some beer judging competitions see focusing on appearance as an unacceptable bias. On the other—well, I think aesthetics are just another thing to appreciate.

In the 1860s, Victorians likely weren’t terribly fussed about the appearance of their beer. But in the 1880s, an English brewer named Joseph Williams Lovibond found himself growing increasingly preoccupied by the hue of his beers.

Different colours in beers largely come about as a result of the different propo rtions of malt roasts used. The longer you kiln your malt, the darker it will be. So, very dark beers have a higher proportion of these more darkly-roasted malts. Other factors can play a part too: more alkaline water or a higher-pH mash can extract more pigment from the grains, resulting in a darker wort, and filtered beer tends to look a little lighter, since the cloudiness has been removed.

So, colour can hint at what the beer might taste like. Lovibond began experimenting with different colour scales. At first, he tried paint chips, but that didn’t work terribly well. Eventually, he came up with a set of coloured glass slides. Using this “Tintometer,” he visually matched beer samples to the slides. Determining the closest match gave the beer’s colour value in degrees Lovibond. In 1895, Lovibond retired from brewing to focus exclusively on “colorimetry,” as he called it, and he established the Tintometer Ltd. Company the next year.

An advertisement for Lovibond's Tintometer.

An advertisement for Lovibond’s Tintometer.

Another view.

Another view.

You have to give the man credit: he definitely followed his passions.

Measuring beer by degrees Lovibond held sway for decades. Honestly, it’s still pretty useful today. But it is a qualitative measurement, fairly subjective. In the 1950, the American Society of Brewing Chemists came up with a more quantitative approach. They passed light at a wavelength of 430 nanometres through beer samples, and used spectrophotometers to measure how much light was absorbed/lost along the way. To make the numbers match more-or-less with the old Lovibond scale, the absorption was multiplied by 12.7. This is the Standard Reference Method, or SRM, and it’s still used today.

Simultaneously, European brewers came up with essentially the same idea, except that the level of light loss was multiplied by 25. Thus, values on the European Brewing Convention scale—EBC—are roughly double those of SRM.

(courtesy Wikipedia)

(courtesy Wikipedia)

If you’re just kicking back on the patio, do EBC or SRM units really matter all that much? Probably not, but I know that when I’m describing beers, I like to use a somewhat-consistent colour scale. When does straw change over into gold? At what point do we go from deep copper to light ruby? For general purposes, I’m still pretty indebted to Mr. Lovibond.

Clearly, there’s more to beer than meets the eye!

-Katie

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We’re Not Alone! Historic Brewing at Colonial Williamsburg

Hello, beer lovers!

We hope that you are enjoying the signs of spring: warmer weather, more daylight, and pale ales and maibocks starting to edge out the porters and stouts on the shelves of the LCBO. (Our Irish Potato Stout is still kicking around though, and we recently saw the Empirical Ale downtown.)

A short-ish note this week, as fate (and ill-positioned tea) have temporarily deprived me of my computer.

There’s only about a month until the Black Creek Historic Brewery begins its 2015 season. While we wait, I grew curious—are there other historic breweries out there?

Sort of. I was fascinated to find that Colonial Williamsburg has been doing work on eighteenth-century brewing. Much as it was for nineteenth century Canadians, beer was a part of everyday life for the Virginians of the 1700s. Frank Clark, historic foodways supervisor at Colonial Williamsburg, notes that beer was the preferred choice of beverage, as the water was often contaminated. If you’ve visited us at Black Creek, you know we usually bookend this statement with many qualifiers and caveats. However, Clark observes that in the case of eighteenth-century Williamsburg, the wells were demonstrably contaminated by sewage, and the water table was only about twenty-five feet deep, meaning that salt water sometimes mixed with the fresh (remember, Williamsburg is pretty close to the coast).

(Check out the video here!)

Much like us here at Black Creek, Colonial Williamsburg has a small brewery onsite, mostly for demonstration purposes. I haven’t been able to find many pictures of it, but based on the clip in the video below, it looks like a fairly similar set-up: small batches, no electricity, everything done by hand. Unlike Black Creek, however, the beer produced onsite is not consumed:

“The beer we make is in such small quantity, and such dangerous conditions, that we could never sell it to the public.”

Well, sure, eighteenth and nineteenth century beers were more likely to go off due to infection. But I think that we’re living proof that you can safely and effectively brew historic beer for general consumption! I’ve watched Ed clean and sanitize before/after brewing: it takes a lot of attention to detail, and a low of elbow grease, but it can certainly be done, if you wish.

Brewing at Williamsburg. Looks familiar. :)

Brewing at Williamsburg. Looks familiar. :)

But scale of brewing is certainly another consideration. We make about 70-ish litres per brew (it varies), which equates to about 18 gallons. Colonial Williamsburg’s onsite capacity is about half that, and they are a much bigger site with a much higher number of visitors. I can see why that wouldn’t end well.

And so, like us, they are partnered with a modern brewery. In their case, recreations of eighteenth century brews are produced by AleWerks: a craft brewery in the town of Williamsburg itself. Currently, they’ve got two historic brews sold at Colonial Williamsburg: the Old Stitch (an English brown ale) and Dear Old Mum (a spiced wheat ale). Personally, I love the names—and the beers themselves sound pretty good too!

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Making the pilgrimage to Colonial Williamsburg has been a goal of mine for a few years now. With brewing dotting their demonstration calendar, and the lure of this Old Stitch (I love brown ales), it looks like I may need to start making more concrete steps to achieve it.

I just need to figure out how to transport a growler over the border…

Cheers!

Katie

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Guest Blogger Tee Morris: Two of a Kind – Beer Pairings in Steampunk

Today, we welcome back author and beer aficionado Tee Morris, who has introduced me to many delicious American craft beers. We hope you enjoy his exploration of beer and literature! 

You might remember me as the blogger that introduced you to Untappd, the social network for beer lovers. Well, at the end of the month, I have a novel coming out called The Diamond Conspiracy; and this steampunk novel of mine was a reoccurring subject between me and beer blogger and historic interpreter Katie Bryski while she stayed with us for an extended visit. Upon finishing an advance copy, Katie and I proceeded to our tradition of visiting local breweries and alehouses, her trip beginning with a visit to Old Bust Head Brewery in Fauquier County, Virginia, and ending with a delightful King’s Feast Dinner at the Dogfish Head Alehouse of Fairfax, Virginia.

(Old Bust Head's growler: it made me feel a bit nostalgic for Black Creek! -Katie)

(Old Bust Head’s growler: it made me feel a bit nostalgic for Black Creek! -Katie)

At the King’s Feast, we were focusing on what beers pair up best with dishes, and that was when Katie asked me, “Do you ever wonder what your characters would drink?”

Pairing beers with characters? Sure, why not?

Character: Eliza D. Braun

Beer Pairing: Smoked IPA

An agent from the farthest reaches of the British Empire, New Zealand native Eliza goes against the standard norms at the home office in London, England. She is bold, powerful, and memorable; and so is an exceptional India Pale Ale. However, as Eliza loves her incendiary devices, a Smoked IPA is the perfect pairing with this firecracker.

Character: Wellington Thornhill Books, Esq.

Beer Pairing: Porter

Porters are smooth, offer a wide variety of flavors (depending on how they are brewed), and grow darker in color the longer you enjoy them. Porters—and yes, I’m including Black Creek’s own porter which earned 4.5 caps from Untappd—are always immensely satisfying. That’s why a Porter is best paired with Wellington Books. A man of the manor born now serving at the Queen’s pleasure, Books is a walking analytical engine who harbors an inner darkness.

(Speaking of dark beers - our Irish Potato Stout is back in the LCBO!)

(Speaking of dark beers – our Irish Potato Stout is back in the LCBO!)

Character: Brandon D. Hill

Beer Pairing: Lager

HWHTaproom

The Half Way House taproom.

 

The lager is the working man’s drink. This does not mean that the lager cannot be a refined brew for a sophisticated palate. That’s the charm of a good lager. It can appeal and satisfy a wide range of gentlemen; so is also Brandon D. Hill a wide range of gentleman. Lager would be Brandon’s brew, whether he is enjoying a night at the opera or a good brawl at a Whitechapel pub.

Character: Bruce Campbell

Beer Pairing: Ale

A very specific ale: Arrogant Bastard.

You are what you drink.

Character: Sophia del Morte

Beer Pairing: Stout

Pairing up a stout with an assassin like Sophia may seem odd as stouts are usually associated with warmth, comfort, and social settings by a fireplace; but that’s how stouts work: they get you to lower your guard. Stouts like Black Creek’s own or Old Bust Head’s Mocha Macchiato Stout catch your attention with exotic flavors like coffee, chocolate, and rich malts. With the right brewer, stouts will completely catch you by surprise with balanced, efficient, and effective brews, all under the cover of darkness.

Just like Sophia.

These are my characters, characters that I know, but what about your favorites? If Sherlock Holmes were to take a break from sleuthing at Black Creek this March Break, what would he prefer—a sharp IPA or a moody Stout? Or, returning to Victorian science fiction, what if you found yourself 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with the Canadian harpooner, Ned Land? What would you be sharing with him? (The time period is right. He might have enjoyed a delicious brew from Black Creek.) Think about your favorite characters from literature, television, or film, and leave your own pairings here. We would love to hear what you come up with.

-Tee

When he’s not enjoying the odd pint or four, Tee Morris is an award-winning writer and podcaster of fiction. The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine, is about to see their fourth adventure, The Diamond Conspiracy, hit bookshelves in March 2015. Their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, also offers a window into their steampunk world. He enjoys life in Virginia alongside Pip, his daughter, and three cats.

PS. Did you know that TWO of Black Creek’s Beer Experts have connections to Tales from the Archives? Katie’s written for the podcast, and Blythe has lent her considerable acting talent!

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3 responses to “Untappd: A Social Network for Beer Lovers (with Guest Blogger Tee Morris)

  1. Pingback: Happy 2015! | The Black Creek Growler Edit
  2. Pingback: Happy 2015! | The Black Creek Growler Edit
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Our 2015 Specialty Beers!

Good news, everyone!

We have our line-up of specialty beers for 2015! As you beer-lovers know, we occasionally like to shake things up in the historic brewery. Besides our standard roster of a brown, stout, porter, and IPA, we also release a monthly specialty brew. Here’s what we have on tap this season:

(NB: Dates refer to date of release. Beers are available until the fridges are emptied.)

May

May 16, 17, 18 – Apricot Ale

Just in time for Victoria Day weekend – a sweet, fruity beer to kick off the season! I think the combination of beer and apricots suits our “Pirates and Princesses” event, also that weekend.

June

June 20/21 – Ginger Beer

Yes! Yes! My personal favourite returns for another season! *ahem* I mean, the soldiers and onlookers during our Revolutionary War Re-Enactment will definitely appreciate this gingery brew. Please note, this is an alcoholic ginger beer, so don’t give it to the wee ones.

July

July 1 – Maple Brown Ale

What’s more Canadian than beer and maple syrup? We’ve done a Maple Porter for a few years, I’ll be interested to see how maple pairs with a slightly lighter, sweeter brown ale.

I like to think they'd approve. I may or may not have seen "Strange Brew" far too young.

I like to think they’d approve. I may or may not have seen “Strange Brew” far too young.

August

August 3 – Simcoe Hopped Ale

We love pale ales in the hot summer months, and the Simcoe Hopped Ale is no exception. Brewed in honour of Lt. Governor John Graves Simcoe, this ale has plenty of Simcoe Hops, lending it a fruity, earthy flavour.

September

September 19/20 – Fresh Hop/Wet Hop Pale Ale

Generally, beer is brewed with dry hops (check out our hop-jar in the brewery – you can smell them, and get a good look!). However, once a year, when the hops are harvested, we’re able to make a Fresh/Wet Hop Ale. Exactly what it sounds like: the hops are thrown into the brew-kettle straight off the vine. Of course, we’ll need some intrepid hop harvesters to help us out, so stay tuned for sign-up details!

Last year's harvest.

Last year’s harvest.

October

October 3 – Whiskey Barrel Aged Brown Ale

Mm! This was a crowd favourite at last year’s Spirited Affair Fundraiser. The vanilla and oakiness that comes through aging in a whisky barrel reminds me of Innis and Gunn.

October 10, 11, 12 – Honey Brown Ale

Golden and rich as the changing season, this was another new brew for us. Excited to see it back!

October 17//18, 24/25, 31 – Pumpkin Ale

Every year. Every year, we wait for this. You wait, we wait. Nothing says October like our Pumpkin Ale! I’m so glad that Ed will be doing a number of brews!

November

November 21 – Elderflower Stout

Hmm, this is a new one. We haven’t brewed with elderflowers before. It’ll be interesting to see the sweet, floral elderflowers play off against the richness of a stout. Looks like November just got a bit brighter!

December

TBA – Winter Warmer

What better way to cap off the year than with a bold, flavourful, high-alcohol beer?

Answer: there is none.

Winter Warmers can have a ton of variety. Ed likes to experiment – I can’t wait to see what he does with the style this year.

*

As a reminder, we also have our March Break Sherlock Holmes Mystery next week. Crime is afoot at Black Creek! Come to the village between March 16th-22nd to help Sherlock and Watson solve The Case of the Tricky Thief! No, the brewery won’t be open, but these two sleuths need all the help they can get! ;)

-Katie

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A Match Made in Heaven: Beer Pairings at Dogfish Head

Hello beer lovers!

We’ve finally made it into March, which means that there are a scant two months until the Black Creek Historic Brewery reopens its doors in May. But despite the cold, I am not one to rest on my laurels. No, in my quest to expand my palate, I have again turned south of the border.

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I have a lot of respect and affection for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Dogfish Alehouse in Fairfax, VA for a beer and food pairing. As friends of Black Creek know well, our “Say Cheese! Say Cheers!” events pair craft beers with artisan cheeses. This “King’s Feast” went a step further, pairing three of Dogfish’s Ancient Ales with a three-course meal.

By now, it’s no secret that pairing beer requires just as much art as pairing wine. Indeed, beer has even more ingredients to play with in creating a flavour profile: malts that span from caramel-sweet to espresso-bitter; floral, citrusy, earthy, grassy, and piney hops; bready and fruity yeasts, and all the spices, nuts, chocolates, fruits, and vegetables (yes, vegetables—remember our Sweet Potato Ale?) you can name.

Properly pairing is an art that I am by no means qualified to expound upon…yet. Generally speaking, though, the aim is to ensure that neither the beer nor the food is overwhelmed. A lighter-bodied pilsner probably won’t stand up to a rich beef roast—but a heavier stout or porter might. You can also contrast and counter flavours: think how the acidity of tomatoes calms the saltiness and savouriness of cheese. That light-bodied pilsner won’t get overwhelmed by something like seafood—and the hops bitterness can cut the fattiness of fish like tuna and salmon.

So, what pairings did Dogfish Head offer?

Course I: Theobroma and Appetizers

All of the beers at this event come from Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series—these are beer recipes recreated from chemical analysis of drinking vessels found at archaeological sites. Theobroma hails from pottery fragments found in the Honduras, attesting to an alcoholic beverage brewed with cacao.

So basically, a chocolate beer that looks like an IPA. Beautiful, beautiful cloudy orange colour.

 

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For me, the cocoa nibs were actually quite subtle: the main flavour I got from this beer was a chili bite (and yes, there are chilies in it). There was some citrus on the aftertaste, and this is more where the cocoa came through, almost like a chocolate-orange sensation. Alas, I can no longer eat cheese, but I suspect that this sharper, citrus-chili taste would have cut the richness of the cheese plate before me. As it is, it did work wonders quenching the thirst produced by two salty dishes of nuts. At 9% ABV, it also left long-lingering warmth in the belly.

 

Course II: Midas Touch and Meat

I would just like to say that I have never seen so much meat on a plate meant for one person. Possibly 1/3 of a chicken, a giant turkey leg, and lamb. Also vegetables. I may never need to eat again.

 

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I hope that’s not the case though, because I quite enjoyed the Midas Touch. Midas Touch was the first of the Ancient Ales, recreated from residue left in drinking vessels found in the Midas Tumulus tomb in Turkey. This ale is a sweet-yet-dry brew that seems to combine elements of beer, wine, and mead. Honey and light fruit notes (most notably melon and grape) dominate the flavours. It’s a beer with a medium mouthfeel, but it certainly does have an edge to it—something like a dry white wine. The sweetness and fruitiness worked well with the white meats on offer, and that edge also cut through the fattiness of the lamb. Also 9% ABV.

 

Course III: Chateau Jiahu and King’s Barley Cake

I’ve had the Chateau Jiahu before. This beer hails from an archaeological dig in China’s Yellow River Valley; evidence suggests that it is one of the world’s oldest brews. Like the Midas Touch, this beer blends elements of wine, beer, and mead. Honey and grapes balance a very sweet, very light maltiness; sake yeast lends just a bit of rice-like nuance as well.

I will admit that after that monster meat plate, I was not up to more than a few bites of the King’s Barley Cake, which was a dense cake studded with apple and accompanied by fruit and cream. Although it comes in at 10% ABV, the Jiahu was one of the lighter, sweeter beers on offer tonight, which kept it from overwhelming the cake. My beer-tasting companion Tee Morris assures me that drinking and eating the two together enhanced the flavour of both.

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And so?                   

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Saying that this was a fine, fine event is quite an understatement, but Dogfish Head: this was a fine, fine event. And of course, my warmest and most heartfelt thanks to Tee and his father for a wonderful evening, filled with good beer, good food, and good conversation. Now that’s a pairing I think we can all agree on!

-Katie

 

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Spruce Beers!

At this time of year, it can be hard to imagine gardens full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Luckily, we have other options: importing and indoor agriculture among them. The Victorians were not so fortunate. Preserving and pickling offered some access to fruits and vegetables through the winter, but malnutrition remained a risk. Those undertaking long ocean voyages were even more at risk—even in fine weather, produce could not be stored on-board for long periods, which could lead to sailors getting scurvy.

Beer to the rescue!

Spruce beer is beer brewed with the needles, shoots, buds, or inner bark of spruce trees. While Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence in the 1530s, the Iroquois shared a scurvy remedy—boiling spruce needles to make a Vitamin C-rich tea. By the 1700s, the British Navy was making an alcoholic version, brewing beer with evergreen needles and shoots.

Explorer James Cook brewed beer during his voyages to New Zealand—indeed, spruce beer was the first beer brewed in New Zealand. However, the ingredients were slightly different. The spruce trees used by Jacques Cartier do not grow in New Zealand. As an alternative, he used manuka and rimu trees, along with molasses to provide a source of fermentable sugar.

James Cook arrives at Queen Charlotte's Sound, New Zealand (courtesy www.britannica.com)

James Cook arrives at Queen Charlotte’s Sound, New Zealand (courtesy http://www.britannica.com)

 

Interestingly, recent scholarship has cast doubt on the efficacy of spruce beer as an antiscorbutic. While spruce does contain Vitamin C, the amounts diminish with fermentation. Anecdotal evidence suggests it offered at least some benefit—not as much as spruce tea, and certainly not as effective as citrus fruits—but enough to slow the progression of scurvy.

Whilst traipsing around the United States, I was fortunate enough to try some spruce beer—and not just any spruce beer, but spruce beer similar to that brewed by Captain Cook. The Wigram Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in Christchurch, NZ: they brewed their first commercial beer in 2001 and officially opened the brewery doors in 2003. (Yes, drinking an NZ beer in the US…long story.) Their James Cook Spruce Beer is a version of Cook’s brew made with rimu and tea tree.

Wigram_James Cook Spruce Beer

It’s a dark coppery colour on the pour, with a busy nose: there’s quite a bit of caramel/sweet aromas, with just a hint of pines. On first taste, the caramels dominate, and the mouthfeel is thick, nearly syrupy on the palate. The pine comes in the aftertaste—a rush of it rising up through the nose. It’s quite different from our Black Creek spruce beer. The pine isn’t quite as intense, and there’s a slight floral quality that I assume comes from the tea tree.

It’s certainly interesting to try beers from across the world—another benefit to living in the 21st century. Well, that and oranges in February. :)

 

Stay warm,

Katie

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