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


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


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


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…)






2 thoughts on “Queen Victoria Walks into a Bar: Matching Beers and Historic Figures

  1. Wait wait wait — you all make a Raspberry Porter?! I _must_ have this. Soon!

    As for figures from history….hmmmm…if I could meet with someone in history, I think I would like to have a beer with James Madison. He was the founder of my alma mater, and I’m thinking he would have been an IPA man. Those Constitutional types did a bit of rabble-rousing back in the day…

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