It’s a busy week for the Black Creek Historic Brewery! We have not one, but two new beers: one down in the brewery, one in the LCBO. Double the beers means double the fun and history!
Let’s start with our June specialty beer. Just in time for Father’s Day, Ed has made an alcoholic ginger beer.
Ginger beer originally descends from drinks such as mead and metheglin (flavoured mead). These were sweet, honey-based beverages, fermented with yeast and flavoured with a variety of spices, including ginger, cloves, and mace. Early ginger beers were made from water, sugar, and ginger, and fermented with the ginger beer plant. Interestingly, the ginger beer plant wasn’t really a plant at all, but a gelatinous composite of yeast and bacteria! From the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century, ginger beers were impressively alcoholic, sometimes reaching 11%.
By the 1850s, however, new laws forced English ginger beer brewers to water their product down to 2% alcohol. It still remained incredibly popular. In 1877, writers John Thomson and Adolphe Smith estimated that some 300,000 gallons of ginger beer were being sold in and around London.
With the rise of imperialism, ginger beer also went global. Soldiers stationed in the Caribbean and Africa were particularly fond of this spicy brew, drinking it to combat homesickness. The ginger was also useful in treating upset stomachs and inflammation – I guess soldiers are more likely to take their medicine if it comes in the form of beer!
Ed’s ginger beer is a really nice amber-coloured ale. It is a malt-oriented beer, so the flavour comes predominately from the grains, rather than the hops. Because this is a fairly light malt, that translates into a subtle sweetness – this isn’t an overly bitter beer. The ginger is definitely noticeable, but mild. The spice grows more pronounced after the first sip; it gives some warmth in the chest! I like it! There’s a moderate finish, too; the light maltiness comes back through the nose at the very end. I think curries and stir-fries would go really well with this beer: foods that are themselves a bit spicy and complex (actually, a ginger-soy pork stir fry, plus this beer…now I’m getting hungry).
Please note: this ginger beer is NOT for the wee ones. It’s still about 5% alcohol!
Our ginger beer will be only available in the Black Creek Historic Brewery. It hits our fridges this weekend, and will last until…well, until we run out.
We also have a new beer in the LCBO! We have done a commercial version of our Lemon Balm PaleAle, which enjoyed consistent popularity down here in the brewery. For those unfamiliar with lemon balm, it’s a bushy herb related to mint that is easily recognizable by the strong lemon smell given off by its crushed leaves. In the past Lemon Balm was considered a healing, soothing plant, and especially effective in relieving pain due to indigestion. Lemon Balm was also used to impart a lemony taste and smell to many beverages and foods.
This is another amber ale, with citrus and mint aromas. It’s a light, refreshing beer: initial herbal notes mellow to pleasant citrus flavours. A light malty finish and tingle on the tongue round things off. That slight bite on the tip of the tongue eases as the beer moves towards the back of the throat. Overall, it’s a great warm-weather beer!
The Lemon Balm Pale Ale is available now in the LCBO. As always, it’s a good idea to check the LCBO website beforehand, just to make sure your local store has it!
Between these two new beers, it’s looking like a great weekend indeed!