Goodbye Porter and Stout… Hello Best Bitter and Pale Ale!

There’s a lot of signs around the village that summer has officially begun. The trees are green and full, the sheep are sheared, and ice cream and freezies are back in the gift shop. However, you know that summer is back when our historic brewery retires our two darkest styles until fall. Our Porter and Stout are perfect for chilly fall and rainy spring days. When summer comes around, our brewmaster switches gears and brews two beers that are perfect for warmer weather – the Pale Ale and the Best Bitter.

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Some of our summer beers – lighter in color and taste than our Porter and Stout

Our Pale Ale is a cousin of the India Pale Ale – it has a similar golden orange color in the glass, with hints of citrus as soon as you bring it up to your nose. It has a slight tropical and citrus taste that will remind you of our India Pale Ale, with less hoppy bitterness and intensity. We call the Pale Ale our patio beer, as it is perfect for a hot day like some of the ones we have been having lately!

Our Best Bitter is a very traditional English beer – made with East Kent Golding hops. These hops have a floral and earthy note, so expect a pleasant and light taste. Our Best Bitter may have bitter in its name, but it is actually a very agreeable beer that is low on the IBU scale.

If you’re a fan of our darker beers, don’t fret – our rich and malty brown ale is still in rotation year round. Also as a reminder, our Ginger Beer that was brewed last weekend will be ready to pick up on Saturday!

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June Specialty Beer: Ginger Ale (Available June 23)

This weekend is our highly anticipated Soldiers and Spies event! It’ll be a weekend full of Revolutionary War themed events, including the Battle of Black Creek! The highlight of each day will be a Revolutionary War battle acted out by re-enactors on our seldom seen North Property.  Kids can also solve clues and crack codes to catch the Yankee spy – perfect for kids who enjoyed the challenge of our March Break mystery. There will also be a live musket demonstration, a mini militia, a rubber band shooting gallery, and more!

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Did I mention this was a perfect activity for Father’s Day?

Along with our usual lineup of historic ales, our brewmaster Ed has also brewed an alcoholic ginger beer that will be available on June 23rd. Ed will be brewing it the weekend of the battle, but will be selling it the next weekend so it has time to ferment. Ginger beer fits well into the time period of the village – the alcoholic version of this drink was popular in the 1860s. Ginger beers were usually as weak as table beers (1-2% ABV), and were consumed in a time before non-alcoholic soft drinks and sodas were common.

Ginger beer began to dip in popularity with the introduction of ginger ale – a non-alcoholic ginger drink that had a sweeter, less spicy, and more carbonated feel than ginger beer. Unlike ginger beer, ginger ale is made with a minimal amount of ginger, and relies more on ginger flavoring. Needless to say, ginger ale proved to be the much more common choice when prohibition rolled around in 1920.

Nowadays you can purchase alcoholic or non-alcoholic ginger beer, depending on your preference. If you’re a fan of alcoholic ginger beer, you’re in luck! Ed’s ginger beer comes in at about 5% ABV, and is made with real ginger. It is a malty, slightly spicy beer that pours a deep amber color in the glass. The mild spice is balanced by the sweet note of the malt making for a refreshing, palate-pleasing beer!

The brewery will be open from 1:00 to 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were joined down in the brewery by a few thirsty soldiers.

Beer Themed Gifts for Father’s Day

Can you believe Father’s Day is next weekend? Time really flies! Maybe you had no idea, and you now feel slightly underprepared. Or maybe you’re completely stumped on an idea for a gift. Luckily for you, the Black Creek Pioneer Village gift shop has a ton of fun and interesting beer themed gifts available just in time for Father’s Day!

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Cooking with Beer book by Jean Paré

We have a ton of beer themed books in our gift shop, including a history of brewing in Ontario, and a guide to different breweries in the province. This one is especially fun, and very aesthetically pleasing. Cooking with Beer is full of beautiful full page color photos, and easy to make recipes that any dad would love! From dips to breads to burgers to stews, this book offers versatility and the fun of using beer in a recipe!

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Black Creek Brewery Glassware

We have a range of themed glassware, from pint glasses to small 4oz mason jar glasses. The small mason jars are what we use for tasting flights in the brewery! If you’re a fan of our historic ale, what’s better than drinking it out of a themed pint glass? You could even  get really creative and purchase a few 4oz glasses to do your own flights at home.

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Black Creek Brewery Merchandise

Does your dad collect ball caps? Maybe orange is his color? We have a ton of great Black Creek Historic Brewery merchandise available! We have beautiful scarves, winter pom pom hats, t-shirts of all colors, and ball caps.

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Novelty Bottle Openers

These bottle openers are not only fun, but useful! We have quite a few to choose from, including a sandal, a bicycle, and one that aptly reads “save water, drink beer.” Also pictured here are our upcycled beer magnets, which also make a very fun gift.

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Upcycled Beer Glasses

These are some of the most interesting beer glasses you will ever find. They are upcycled, which means they are made from real beer bottles. We have tons of fun ones, like beer tac toe, beer bottle hangman, and beer search. Or, you can keep it traditional with an upcycled glass with the Historic Brewery logo on it.

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As you can see, we have a ton of interesting gifts to choose from! If this list has piqued your interest, we have so much more in our gift shop. Beer soap, beer jelly, growler carriers, and more! We also have two liter growlers of our historic ale, which is guaranteed to be a hit present and cement your status as the favorite child. All of this and more can be found at the Black Creek Pioneer Village gift shop, which is open daily from 11:00 to half an hour after village closing time.

Spotlight on the Revolutionary War: Beer Rations

One of my favorite special events here at the village, Soldiers and Spies, is fast approaching! This is an event we run every Father’s Day weekend, which includes a Revolutionary War re-enactment on our seldom seen North Property.  Father’s Day weekend is still pretty far away, but any time is a good time to talk about history and beer!

Stand Your Ground
A painting depicting the Revolutionary War entitled “Stand Your Ground” painted by Don Troiani, courtesy U.S. Army Center for Military History. Doesn’t this look like it could be on our North Property?

You may ask – what’s the connection between the Revolutionary War and beer? Well, American and British soldiers actually had a beer ration provided to them as part of their daily allowance while serving. This was not uncommon at the time – you may remember that British soldiers stationed in India were also provided a beer ration, leading to the creation of the India Pale Ale.  However, colonial-era soldiers were not drinking hoppy IPAs like their counterparts in 19th century India. So… what were they actually drinking?

According to the National Museum of American History, a daily allowance for an American soldier likely looked something like this:

  • One pound of bread
  • Half a pound of beef and half a pound of pork; and if pork cannot be had, one pound and a quarter of beef; and one day in seven they shall have one pound and one quarter of salt fish, instead of one day’s allowance of meat
  • One pint of milk, or if milk cannot be had, one gill [half a cup] of rice
  • One quart of good spruce or malt beer
  • One gill of peas or beans, or other sauce equivalent
  • Six ounces of good butter per week
  • One pound of good common soap for six men per week
  • Half a pint of vinegar per week per man, if it can be had.

Spruce Beer was enjoyed by soldiers on both sides of the battle. It was likely chosen as a ration because of its ability to potentially keep away scurvy. According to our previous blog writer Karell:

Colonial soldiers learned from the First Nations peoples that spruce could prevent and cure scurvy: a scourge of mariners and soldiers alike prior to the 19th century.  Scurvy was recognized as a disease caused by a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, but it wasn’t understood to be caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C until 1932!  Thus, while soldiers and sailors didn’t know that spruce was an excellent source of Vitamin C or why Spruce Beer kept scurvy at bay, they did know it was good for what ailed them!

George Washington himself was a fan of beer, and even penned a recipe for small beer that has been preserved to this day. Perhaps the “malt beer” provided as rations was something similar to Washington’s recipe penned in 1757. Here is a transcription provided by Draft Mag:

“Take a large sifter full of bran hops to your taste—boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 gall. into cooler put in 3 gallons molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the cooler. Strain the beer on it while boiling hot let this stand til it is little more than blood warm. Then put in a quart of yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blanket. Let it work in the cooler 24 hours then put it into the cask. Leave the bung open til it is almost done working—bottle it that day week it was brewed.”

According to the George Washington Library at Mount Vernon, Washington penned this recipe while serving in the Virginia militia. The inclusion of this recipe in Washington’s wartime journal points to the fact that it was likely consumed by the troops serving along Washington during the French and Indian War.

If you’d like to pick up some beer rations for yourself, our brewmaster will be preparing a Ginger Beer that will be available on June 16th! Keep an eye on this blog for more information as we get closer to the date.