Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick Sips: Samuel Adams New Albion Ale

I do love me some trips into beer history.

Before there was Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head or anyone in craft beer, there was Jack McAuliffe’s New Albion brewery, the first craft brewery of the modern era. But in an era of bad canned lager made in dying regional breweries, America wasn’t ready.

New Albion opened in 1976 and closed its doors in 1982, a whisper in terms of business. Their legacy, however, endures. In some ways they were the Velvet Underground of beer. Not many people drank them, but everyone who did started their own brewery. They influenced countless others and helped introduce the idea that American beer can be hoppy, an approach that has all but come to define American craft beer.

Samuel Adams recreates New Albion's influential flagship with New Albion Ale, brewed with the original recipe provided by McAuliffe himself. Considering how far craft beer has come in the more than 30 years since New Albion folded, you’d expect this to be pretty tame. You’d be wrong. It’s a bright, hoppy, bitter-but-drinkable brew with an aroma that would not be out of place on today’s shelves. Have to admit, I was a little surprised - and impressed. It’s a little taste of history, sure, but if you don’t care about history then just look at it as a taste of something good. Because it is

Portions of this piece originally appeared in the Philadelphia Weekly and are repeated here with permission.

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