American History (After Hours) 2015: Brewing Up History

American History (After Hours) 2015: Brewing Up History


SUSAN: Good evening, everyone. That was a
great quiet down. Thank you for that. Welcome to the National
Museum of American History and to our inaugural American History
(After Hours) event. This is a new program series at the
museum where we are looking at intriguing historical topics through
modern day approaches all while enjoying some delicious food and
drink which you will be doing shortly. I’m Susan Evans, I’m the Program Director of the American Food History Project
here at the museum and tonight we are Brewing Up History. So, sales of craft beer in the United States
have been on a steady increase since the 1990s, and in fact the Brewers’ Association
reported last year that currently the United States has over
3,000 operational breweries which means that we currently have more
breweries right now than any other time since the 1870s. So how are today’s brewers looking to the past of brewing some of that 1870s and earlier brewing history
and what has really changed or stayed the same in
the world of brewing throughout that time period. So with me
to discuss this tonight are Greg Engert to my
left and Mike Stein — yes that’s his real name. Greg is the beer director and managing partner for
Neighborhood Restaurant Group which includes Bluejacket, Birch and Barley,
Churchkey, and many other restaurants around the DC region Mike is the brewery historian at DC Brau, he’s a staff writer at DCBeer.com, and the President of Lost Lagers. So we’ll
be talking for about 30 minutes up here that will turn it over to you
for some questions and while we are doing that, please feel
free to take out your cell phones and tell all of your friends what a great time
you’re having using the hashtag #DCbeer1812. So after we’ve wrapped up in here, we’ll move on to the part you’ve all been
waiting for and we’ll go taste some beers and enjoy some food made by chef Kyle Bailey at the Arsenal at Bluejacket and drink some beers that we’re talking about. There’ll be objects out-of-storage, we’ll have some exhibitions open, and we can
continue the conversation. So with that introduction I want to start off by
asking both of you about a really interesting project you put
together in the past year or so and one that has a really strong
historical connection. So last year marked the two hundredth
anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore during the war of 1812. In fact, we have the very flag that
inspired the Star Spangled Banner in this museum and that happened
during the Battle of Baltimore. So in the spirit of that story and our
little historical warm-up can you tell me a bit about your
1812 beers project? GREG: Sure, so this is, I promise it’s going to be convoluted and complicated. Really. SUSAN: That’s history! GREG: So, Mike Stein and I have talked about doing historic collaborations for quite a while now, and I think we probably both thought we do some kind of pre-Prohibition lager or something like that, until Mike brought me some research that our friend Garrett Peck had done about Navy Yard and Navy Yard brewing, specifically the Washington Brewery which, though established in 1796 in what is now Foggy Bottom area moved down to a stone’s throw away from where Bluejacket is today in 1806? 5? MIKE: 4. GREG: 4. That’s why he’s here. And then operated there until about 1836 So this was intriguing, and even more intriguing was the fact that we only have two advertisements, both from the National Intelligencer that give us any indication about the types of beer that would have been brewed at this place and there’s no recipes which I found
freeing We weren’t just going in and trying to replicate some kind of recipe, but so we set upon utilizing, I think, a lot of our
previous research on historic beers. I know I
personally drew on my research into English brewing history and, and started to kind of attack these
two advertisements and come up with a project that ultimately we’ll all get to taste after this. MIKE: So, like Greg was saying we had planned to make sort of a historic beer for some time. The question of style was never really a question. We always
knew we were going to collaborate, but with these beers that we choose to
do, we went sorta back in time, but not just in time,
in place to a very significant place to both of us, you know, Navy Yard. And we had some clues, obviously we
didn’t have a recipe but we knew the size of the brewery, the Washington brewery in Navy Yard, which was actually bigger — their copper was 1100 gallons, which is bigger than any boiler in DC today, which is kinda
humorous. And then we had some other context
clues like Greg mentioned, we’re both huge fans of history so we’ve read a lot of writings on historical beer. You know, Martyn Cornell and Ron Pattinson and we’re familiar with their work, but of course their work is primarily based in Britain or England
or Scotland I and we wanted to do something that was
relevant to DC where we live and play and work, so we decided on
the Washington Brewery at Navy Yard and then, again, the two ads we had. One was from 1811, one was from 1813 SUSAN: And these were newspaper ads that you found, right? MIKE: Yes, absolutely, from the National Intelligencer like Greg said. So there were three The first ad from 1811, which was
advertised for beer orders to be sold at Daniel Rapine’s bookstore was the second mayor of DC, who was decided mayor before we even really had title for mayor — he was a councilman — by a coin toss. At his bookstore you could place an order
for table ale for three dollars a keg, GREG: Literally a half barrel. MIKE: Literally a half barrel. GREG: 15.5 gallons. MIKE: It was four dollars for strong ale and
then five dollars for X ale. And then the- there are lots of historical arguments about
what that entailed. Is that a style? Is that was something a brewery made and
it’s more a definition of a processes? You know X ale might have very well been strong ale that just sat longer, there’s all this talk stock ales and mild ale, and then the
convoluted nature of style starts. GREG: And that was the fun thing for us. Ok, it’s like, if we start with those
three, it could literally mean just about anything. I mean, so we have
these, these names and there’s a rough reference point as to what it is–but–and then cost, which should indicate strength, or at least original gravity, how much sugar existed beforehand. But, just to give you an idea of the
different permutations that these terms could mean way back when, in 1811, 1812, 1813, styles were not really existant, there was no such thing as style, but even the terms we use today
meant something different back then. So you had two major families: ale and beer, right, so ale – been around for, for a very long time and beer basically is just very well-hopped, or hopped ale, so ale originally was not, was not hopped, until around the 1500s when it comes to British brewing and things like that. But then, from those two you can go colors. So you can have, let’s say, pale ale, amber ale, brown ale. No black ale, and we’ll talk about why in a second. But you can do the same on the beer side so the same but just different hopping
rates, all right? But then you can go to strengths so for
every one of those pale, amber, brown ale, or beer, you can have table, which is the lightest, right, the lowest ABV. You can have common, which is stronger, so “strong” then the table, and then you can have stout, which would be the strongest. So stout back then just meant, uh, “strong.” SUSAN: And ABV meaning alcohol content, alcohol by volume GREG: Yes, alcohol by volume, or by weight at that time. So now you have that, OK, and then the
last layer is mild, which in those days meant fresh, young, and then a whole host of terms: keeping; stale, which is a positive term, believe it or not. MIKE: It’s a good thing. GREG: Stock, and eventually maybe old meant the same beer aged, and they would do all these things to everything. So when we look at this and see “table,” “strong,” and “X,” it’s like X could be a fresh version of probably the strongest of the three, but what color is it? You know, what ABV is it? Strong doesn’t mean stronger, but is it X? Is it fresh, or is it K? Keeping? So this
was kind of like a dead end here for us in many ways,
so you know, we started thinking, “OK, they’re all probably, probably related and I think that was
based on the second advertisement, which we’ll talk more about later, wherein it states — Well, there’s a guy John Collett who buys this brewery in 1811. He’s a very enterprising man, so buys the brewery, immediately puts an ad out saying these three beers are for sale, okay? And then by 1813 he’s advertising the sale of the brewery. He wants to get rid of it. And then he lists everything that’s in the brewery’s MIKE: inventory. GREG: stocks and inventory. SUSAN: And now, was that supplies or types of beer that he was — GREG: Just supplies. So this is where we get new
information and also we find out more about the
brewhouse itself and things like that. In the interim, though, when he first bought the brewery, we know
that he bought the lot next door ’cause he intended to expand the brewery and there was a malthouse as well, but lo and behold people of the Navy Yard, the workers of the Navy Yard were actually more interested in spirits than beer and so it didn’t seem like a profitable
business. And so then he tries to turn around and sell it in 1813. So, when we look at that information, that’s where we find out that not only do they have an 1100 gallon kettle, they have a second 500 gallon kettle, so they have to two kettles which I don’t think any of us in DC have today. And one of the reasons why – the reason
why you’d have two kettles way back when is to do something called parti-gyle
brewing, and parti-gyle brewing is basically — I’ll let Mike explain a little bit
more about that — but is basically a way by which you can make many different
strengths of beer or ale from one original grain base, grist, and so then you can have, kind of,
the same beer two ways, three ways, four ways, five ways, the lightest one being the lowest in alcohol, and that’s like the last one to be made, and the first one, the first runnings being the strongest so that kinda
got us thinking in a whole different direction. MIKE: Yeah, and the interesting thing about, you know, this, this type of brewing process that Greg is
talking about is even at, even in this point in time in 1811, it’s
done differently in England than it’s done in Scotland. In Scotland, the boil time is much shorter so they may
have produced two beers from the same mash but they’re boiling for sometimes is as
little as 60 minutes but in English breweries, in the London breweries, they’re mashing for an incredibly long amount of time and their boiling for an incredibly
long amount of time I mean it’s the same concept when you make soup or a stock on your stove — if you let it go half an hour it might be very, you know, liquid-y, not very viscous. If you let it go an hour, more viscous, an hour and a half well you have less
broth then you started with and it’s the same concept in beer. So, this just, this method just opens a
whole ‘nother rabbit hole to jump down which we dipped a toe in but we didn’t
want to go full board. GREG: Yeah, we didn’t parti-gyle this. MIKE: Right, right, exactly. SUSAN: What prevented you from doing that? Why didn’t you wanna do the whole process? GREG: Uh, we didn’t have two kettles, I mean- MIKE: Also, the brewers would have killed us. SUSAN: That was all that was holding you back? MIKE: So, the last gyle, the last batch was boiled for four hours before the eight-hour day
so have we spent 12 hours down at Navy Yard Bobby and Josh and Owen would have quit, they just would have been so pissed off, they would have left. No, but in all seriousness, um, there’s no way to accurately recreate
this brewery from 1811, and knowing that at the outset of
the project we made some concessions to history. SUSAN: And that’s an
important point, it sounds like there’s no real way to
recreate it, so can you guys talk a little more about that,what that — recreating versus inspiration you got. GREG: Well, I think this strikes at the heart of what we end up doing. Basically, you know, creating historic beers is a conundrum. Well, first off, it’s, you’re never actually
recreating historic beer, right. We’re not using copper in our brewhouse. We’re not using — I mean, grains are completely different today than they were back then, I mean, there’s a whole host of reasons we don’t need to go into, obviously, I think it’s pretty clear. SUSAN: That’s it’s not 1813 anymore. GREG: Right. So then, on the other side, though, is you do try
to make some concessions to get at the flavors
of the time, you know, it’s as simple as — I don’t think anybody’s saying like, “Well, you know, it’s inspired by this.” All
beers are inspired by some kind of historic, stylistic, you know, precursors. So you start to think about
what are the ways, what are the few ways, that we can actually create flavors that are not of this era. And then the problem with that, of course,
is that those flavors are not of this era, so we might not like the way that they taste, maybe progress has led us to come up with new techniques and new types malt, and so this is the conundrum. It’s like how do we make it historically interesting but not only historically interesting SUSAN: And what are some of those tastes that you’re talking about, when you say it might not be up to our taste, what would it be like? GREG: So anyway, the big one, I think, for me anyway, in the beers you’re gonna taste — and just so everyone knows, too, you’re not gonna hate all the beers. MIKE: We brewed bad beer, but on purpose! GREG: But I think is the most interesting thing is what we ended up doing to have it both
ways, so this parti-gyle system basically ends up meaning that you create one beer, right, and you’d have two kettles going. So you mash in your grains and you send that grain sugar called wort over to one kettle and you’re leaving your, your grains behind in the latter tun. Meanwhile, in the
other kettle you’re already cooking up boiling up your new water that you’re gonna
bring — not boiling it, but heating it up pretty hot — you’re moving that over immediately
into the mash tun whereby you can heat the mash up again and now send more wort over to that kettle from which that hot water just came, so now you’ve got two kettles going, two boils going with wort. One, the first
one, has way more sugar in it than the second one, right? And so that if you do that a third time
now you’ve got the same beer but each with decreasing amounts of fermentable sugar. And then, if you, so then if you apply the same hopping rate, same yeast, you create three beers that just are different strengths, different flavors and intensities but all related on the same so that’s kinda where we
went and decided to say that table strong and X were just three tiers, you know, X
being the first runnings, ’cause it’s the most expensive, table being the last. But then we said, “Okay, how are we going to be historic about this?” So Mike found a maltster from England, Thomas Fawcett, right?>>MIKE: Right. GREG: A 200-year-old maltster right, and they’ve got this malt that nobody would use today, but it’s called — amber malt SUSAN: Perfect. GREG: and it gives you, literally, hardly any sugar, it’s very under-modified, so there’s not a lot of sugar to ferment, and it’s got a pretty big roasted, kind of, almost acrid character to it, and but we like
this is gonna be our historic, you know, take on this and so we decided to use it. MIKE: Yeah, I think it should be said, no 200-year-old barley kernel exists today and if it does, not in the
quantities in which modern brewers would use it. Bear in mind, all the modern brewers in DC, whom I love,
all of them, you know, just don’t have the capacity,
even at the Washington Brewery at Navy Yard, so this is on a massive scale and they’re malting their own grain,
something which is done by very few breweries in the world today
because we’ve become more efficient doing it elsewhere and just buying our malt but this maltster, Thomas
Fawcett, has been around for two hundred years,
and I went as far as to email Mr. Fawcett and say, “Hey, do you have any records from 1810 to 1814, of course he didn’t, but, you know, I checked all bases. GREG: We tried. MIKE: Yeah we
tried. SUSAN: Which is an important historical story, that that’s how you find out about history, is a lot of
dead ends. GREG: So I guess, so of course we didn’t do the
parti-gyle method. What we did instead was create three recipes with the exact
same malt bill, hot bill, which we can talk about later if we have time, or afterwards, and then the same primary yeast, or yeast for primary
fermentation. I think the plato gravities ended up being like, 23, 15, and 10. So 23 was, just, the most sugar, 15 and then 10. The finals ABVs ended up around 8.5%
for the first beer, what we’ll call X ale. 6.5% for strong ale, and then 2.6% for the table ale. MIKE: I think the original grav of the table even under ten, it like nine. GREG: Eight or nine. MIKE: Yeah, round to nine. But very, you know, I mean, our definition, American craft brewers today, our definition of strong is really strong I mean we’re talking beers over 10% whereas a premium strong ale in England
today might be 6% which is a lot of the flagship beers
around here in DC we like 6% pale ale, we like 6% whatever, but that’s the American palate. SUSAN: And do you have records historically of what a strong ale, percentage-wise, would
have been comparable? How do you find that out? MIKE: Yes, but the hydrometer has only existed SUSAN: There you go, good point. MIKE: Right, has only been around since– GREG: The hydrometer is how you measure the sugars in the water, in the wort, so that’s how you know, like, we started with this much sugar and ended up with this much, now we can calculate alcohol amounts. So, that’s from the early 19th century. We didn’t really knows strengths before that. But we can guess at strengths based
on the gravities, you know, that we had, and I think straight is-is relative. It goes up and down and up and down, and when you go in and out of wars, for instance, it changes dramatically MIKE: Absolutely. GREG: So when you start taxing or restricting how much malt somebody can use, all the sudden, you know, your definition of strength can go from 8% to 4%. MIKE: Of course. SUSAN: So are you suggesting there’s some sort of War of 1812 link here that you we just don’t know. GREG: There is. SUSAN: There was, you know, there was limits on what you could get. MIKE: I’ll say this, taxes were very important to what was America in 1811 as as they were in England and there’s a
beer tax. England is just coming out of the Napoleonic Wars they’re still
involved in them and the point is that we always talk
about the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law. Well, England had a purity law, too. France had, Paris–there was a Paris purity law, but we know about the German
one because it’s been intact for so long SUSAN: And can you just explain what that, if people are not familiar with it? MIKE: Sure, so, the Reinheitsgebot determined that all German beer should
only be made with three ingredients: water, hops, and barley. They didn’t know about yeast, pure yeast culture at the time so yeast wasn’t listed as one of the ingredients. But, the Brits had a law
as well, in, I think it was 1811, saying that all British Beer must be made from the same
ingredients, the fourth with yeast, and they couldn’t use
sugar or molasses or treacle or honey or any
of those ingredients that the Brits, the British brewers could have used, as well as the Scottish brewers, and thats really interesting because the Washington Brewery at Navy Yard is
housed in the old sugar mill, in the old sugar
factory where, of course, they would have had, there would have been a history of making sugar and molasses and the other byproducts so
it’s very interesting in terms of local history, how that varied from the Anglo British-Scottish world.>>GREG: And also we know from other recipes of the time that
molasses were used in a lot of America brewing. Part of the reason for that is just the fact that the Mid-Atlantic at that time was not and still is not a hotbed of grain-growing, so you had to find your sugar source from some place. And so, to that end, not only do we use, you know, Maris Otter Pale Malt, which is an English malt, that’s modern, amber malt, we use some molasses, we use a little bit of chocolate malt, some special W, which is also pretty intense, slightly acrid and roasty malt. It’s, uh, Belgian, but just trying to go to the
flavors. But what I think is very important is that at some point we decided to maybe go more historic, if I
can say that, on these three in some ways, i.e., like, let’s let’s stop worrying about necessarily, like, how its gonna taste to the modern palate and let’s go a little bit more historic
on these because we started referencing that second advertisment more and in that advertisement, you know, so John Collett decides he wants to sell the brewery, and so now this is where we find out that he’s got two kettles, and a malt house. This is where we find out he’s got five hundred bushels of barley and malt. That’s roughly, like, 24,000 pounds or so. That’s where we find out he’s got 2000 lbs of hops on hand which would have been whole corn hops, so, a lot more than you might expect. I mean, that’s a lot of hops on hand, actually, for the time. But its also where we find out that he’s got ale and porter, so those are the two general categories mentioned, and a huge
stock of barrels, oak barrels, in all sizes, too, so like, half-barrels MIKE: Hogsheads… I mean these are just GREG: Pipes and tuns. SUSAN: Words to describe shapes of barrels. MIKE:Wonderful early 19th-century words for different size of barrels. Yeah, exactly. GREG: And we knew, there wasn’t any stainless steel in the brewing industry until the fifties. Keg beer is 1960s, so back
then you’re filling oak barrels, half-barrels, or barrels, and sending it out and pouring from them but he also had pipes and tuns, which are like 125-250 gallon giant oak, kind of,>>MIKE: Vats.>>GREG: Vats. So we start thinking about porter, we
start thinking about vats, we start thinking about aging beer and then, depending on who you believe,
there’s kind of a little debate going on about what porter once was. MIKE: It’s very hot in story in the historic beer nerd circle right now. GREG: It is. MIKE: A raging debate. GREG: So on one side you have – so we chose to go with Ron Pattinson, who is on the side of sour, because now we’re starting to think, “Well, wait a minute – we’re gonna make these three beers. We’ll make that table beer, we’ll make that X ale, and we’ll make that strong ale, and we’ll make them pretty historically accurate, malt-wise. But at the end of the day, let’s create one interpretation of what porter would have been in the early nineteenth century, and that’s a blend of ale, typically a blend of ale, part of which is aged, and therefore soured and likely funky from the fermentation, secondary fermentation of any number
of Brettanomyces strains, which is a cousin to ale yeast, lager yeast,
Saccharomyces that creates, kind of, funky flavors and it dries beer out. And let’s say that, you know, maybe
what we’ll do is we’ll brew all three of these threads, and then we’ll create a master porter blend, but knowing that we didn’t necessarily have enough time to let this part of the blend age naturally and sour naturally and get funky from Brettanomyces naturally just from spontaneity of fermentation, we said let’s dress up those threads a little bit, too. So we, we took the X ale, which is the strongest, it came out 8.5%, we said we’re not gonna manipulate that, we’ll leave it as a sort of barleywine of sorts, right? Then we took the 6.5% percent middle road one and we spike that with Brettanomyces lambicus, which is typically found in, it’s the funkier-producing flavor strain that we find in lambic from Brussels and Pajottenland and we spike that in the middle one so that got really dry and really funky and wild and then with that 2.6% table beer we said, you know what, let’s hit that with some lactobacillus which
is the deposited bacteria that gives us really
great tartness, and then we’ll have three strains of beer that are interesting and weird and wild on their own, maybe even historically evocative. But at the end of the day, we know we can create a final blend, our homage to the early 19th century porter that is going to be much more to our modern palates. SUSAN: So, can you talk a bit about that blending process and what– how blending would have worked in that time period and why, you know, you’re saying why you chose to do it now but how is it different now. MIKE: So, as Greg was mentioning, there’s this debate about whether or not stock ale was sour tart, funky… SUSAN: So,stock ale, porter, same thing or are those two different things? MIKE: Right. A porter could very well be a stock ale. That depends on the brewery, specifically in history. GREG: Stocks are just aged, yeah, aged in the barrel. MIKE: It just means, it sat. But, just to fast forward, to go from 1811 to 1911, stock ale is probably a
lager that’s been sitting in these German
lager beer breweries but they might still call it stock ale. Confusing, I know. GREG: And it wouldn’t be sour at all. MIKE: And wouldn’t be tart at all, it would be very clean, made with a pure pastorianus, you know, a lager yeast culture. What we found in that 1813 ad is that beyond all the visers, leagues, hogshead and in these massive vats and small little kegs, all wooden, there were casks of vinegar. So why would a brewery be holding casks of vinegar? I mean, it’s as random an ingredient as sugar or molasses. Why didn’t they put that in the ad as well? Well, I suspect that some of those casks, serving casks, kegs, had turned to vinegar because they’ve been stock ale, stock porter, perhaps, for too long. So did we want to recreate vinegar? No. I
mean, we could have done that but the point is when we drink sour
ale, we like it to have an incredible complexity and a depth, and what a better
way to do that than by creating three unique ales and blending them together to create a porter. And that’s kinda
where the notion came about. GREG: And also, so, for the blend, we had, you know, So, at Bluejacket we have three incredible brewers who are the heart and soul of that brewery Their names are Josh Chapman, Owen Miller, and Bobby Bump, so they you know, well Mike actually sat in on a couple of the brew days, I think, but the five of us got
together and then Mike Tonsmeire, who’s here as well, he’ll be outside selling his book on sours. We invited him in because he knows quite a bit about sour. MIKE: We invited the man who literally wrote the book
“American Sour Beer”, I mean that’s the title of the
book, and he’ll be here tonight signing books. But we invited him because we knew his palate is kinda bar none. He’s traveled all over the world,
all over the country, you know, to California and to Texas, all over to these, sort of, renowned American sour beer breweries. And these sour breweries are convening
with history in a sense that they’re making beer that was as tart as
turn of the 19th century stock ale but, of course,
their ingredients are very 21st century and their methods are very 21st century and they don’t have to let a beer sit for
six months to get it nice and tart. GREG: So we did, I think we ended up, like, 8 or 10 12 different blends? MIKE: I think it was eight blends. GREG: Tasted them out, and then we ended up doing the final blend, which we loved, with 25% of that table beer, and then the other the rest of it splitevenly between the other
two threads, right? MIKE: And so we kinda got there by doing okay we’re just gonna start with two strands and see what that’s like. We blended the two, okay, well, we definitely want to add the table beer because we know that’s tart and funky, and we did 1/3-1/3-1/3. Well this is too earthy,too terra firma, let’s bring in some tartness. So it was like,
you know, 1/6-1/6-2/3, or whatever it was, and eventually just got the ratio right. But it took eight separate concoctions of just taking, you know, I don’t know, 12 ounces of beer, a small amount, and blending them, you know, 3oz-3oz-3oz or whatever. GREG: Right. MIKE: Yeah, I mean, it was a process but that’s something when you when you
buy you know, the beer we love a Russian River beer, a Jester King beer a Cantillon beer, that’s all behind the scenes. They don’t I mean, sometimes they’ll put in marketing what the bland is GREG: Yeah, trust that it’s blended. MIKE: Right right exactly. GREG: It doesn’t come out perfect from barrel anytime, necessarily. I think, so, I mean, so we ended up with
this more modern sour but still it’s gonna
a lot of malt character it’s very funky, it’s about 6% alcohol,
really tasty a cool homage, like I said, to that kind of original early 19th century porter style. SUSAN: So, as we’re thinking about wrapping up the conversation, how do you
think that your dive deep into history here will be impacting
what you do you as brewers moving forward? GREG: I will never use amber malt again. SUSAN: Learning from the past. GREG: Yeah, no, I think it’s it’s really fun, it’s, I don’t know, I think it’s the stuff that we think about every day so I’d love to do more this stuff keep learning about the way that the flavors can be manipulated and get manipulated and things like that. It’s just great, you know, honestly like
creativity need some bounds for me, like, otherwise, it’s just like chaos, like what do you make tomorrow, you know? So this was a great thing to
focus on, focus us on this project to create beers that we never would have made had we not seen these two
advertisements and spoken together about them, and then sat down with the brewers and created these recipes, and I think that’s the most rewarding part.>>MIKE: For me, I think it’s just convincing as many brewers as I can to keep using amber malt. No I’m just kidding. GREG: Or to let Mike in their brewhouse. MIKE: No, which I’ll say, you know, Jeff from DC Brau is here and we did a great beer just with amber and
brown and Maris Otter malt this summer, so, I think the way we learn is we take what’s good about the past
and we leave what’s bad behind and then we funnel that creativity into a brewing project. So, you know, what’s next, or what’s for the 21st century, is looking back through the centuries, taking the best and maybe offering a flavor
experience that is very palatable to the modern palette but is also evocative of what the palate was like in the 19th. GREG: And I’d say the last thing is, we’re not trying to be definitive here, obviously, we’re not saying, “This is what beer tasted like back then!” Nobody should ever say that but you know we’re starting a conversation. We should all, I think, be interested in,
was porter tart? Was it not? Was it funky and breaded, you know? I think these conversations are fun to have, and I think these beers make you think about them And it’s a another way to drink beer, rather
than just being, you know, you know 100 points, or you know, this one’s better than that one. It’s to create experience not just visceral but maybe a little bit more intellectual, and a great jumping-off point into other
ideas that are beyond the glass. SUSAN: Well i really appreciate from the historic perspective of how you guys really
dove deep into what was happening in the past and made it something that makes us
think about how history really influences the experiences that we’re having today so
with that I wanna leave time for some questions. If you do you have questions there
are two microphones at either side of the seats there, it’s a packed house so make friends with your neighbors and kinda scootch on out to the microphone and we’ll just take a
few questions before we turn everybody out to try some of the things
that we just talked about. So our first question is right over here.
I think they should be on. Yeah, I can hear you so I’ll repeat it. GUEST: So, drinking sour beer and avoiding problems with somebody that’s diabetic. SUSAN: So I think the question — GUEST: Is there a lower glucose or glycegin index? SUSAN: So I think the question is about sugar levels, probably, in a beer? so what and how — if the sour beer maybe
have a lower sugar level than a different beer. MIKE: I’m happy to handle that. So, I’m actually a type 1 diabetic I have been since I was 7, so I’ve had it for a few decades now and I’ll say that generally speaking the
better attenuated beer is better for the blood
sugar. SUSAN: Attenuated, can you say, what does that mean? MIKE: So attenuation, right when a beer is really dry it’s well attenuated and that means
there isn’t a lot of residual sugar. The yeast has eaten that alcohol– eaten that sugar and converted it into alcohol. With these big rich styles like Russian Imperial stout and barley wine and old ale you can taste the sweetness and that will jack your blood sugar up, no doubt about it. The better attenuated beers: pilsners, berliner vice that’s been sitting for
years that’s very attenuated with Lactobacillus, perhaps with Brettanomyces, that is, in
theory, better for a diabetic ’cause you can have 12 ounces of it and it’s only, you know, ten carbs. Comparatively, you know, 12 ounces of barleywine, that’s going to be like 20 or 30 cards, depending on which maltose, dextrins,
are inside of it. GREG: But at the same time — glucose — I mean, you can have a beer that’s lowly attenuated that’s really sour too. So, it’s not, lactobacillus just convert sugar out into, you know, i mean when we make our sours, we use a particular kind of lacto strain called Brevus most the time, because we find it’s able
to drop the pH and acidify the wort without converting too
much of the sugar we wanna leave that sugar to be fermented out by Brettanomyces or other kinds of yeast, later on, so, that’s why you can have really sweet
and sour beers, you know, I think like Rodenbach Classic or Duchesse de Bourgogne kinda taste like sweet and sour, and it’s for that reason. Then you can have bone-dry heavily acidic beers, like Cantillon Lambic, that’s going to be bone dry and super
sour, too, so, it can go either way. SUSAN: And if no one’s ever experience what a dry beer tastes like, I think you will have that experience, probably, when you taste them, ’cause it’s GREG: Among those and other beers that we brought, too. SUSAN: All right, another question over here. GUEST: Sure, well, we know that hops barley, and malt are grown in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, a number of other European countries but also in the States. Can you say something about where the
ingredients came from for the historic beers and
where did they come from now and what affect does that have on the
quality and the taste of the beer? SUSAN: So where the ingredients were being grown historically where the ingredients you
guys are using in your brews today. MIKE: So, that’s a great question how does ingredients — how do ingredients affect taste in the end product. The answer is very much so. You know, we didn’t use any, really, Czech or German, Eastern European ingredient, and it’s also a great mystery, too. They had a ton of malt and a ton of hops, where did they get all those from. Obviously if you go back to historical
record, you learn you know, George Washington at some point, is against the English porter and is in favor of porter from Philadelphia, and then it’s made at home on his estate. So, there’s this shift in
ingredients and how ingredients might even reflect patriotism or nationalism. SUSAN: Ooh, a whole other lecture! MIKE: Yeah, sorry. SUSAN: Love that topic. MIKE: Getting back to that question, ingredients do drastically affect flavor. GREG: I think, so, of course, it’s hard to say exactly what
we know obviously English exportation stilll existed at the time so we’re so importing. So we used some English malts that’s why we can use German or Czech malts or things like that. We did use some locally grown wheat, unmalted wheat not because necessarily it was going to be a part of that recipe in the old days but to try to show that there
probably would have been some influence of locall-grown grain in the beer, and then one of the amazing chefs I get to work with all the time, his name is Nathan Anda he’s a butcher, too. Red Apron, the Partisan, B Side, he’s incredible. He smoked some malt for us on his smoker. So, just showing that how, like the malthouse would have dried some malt and probably smoked it all
right next door but probably wouldn’t be doing it
with hickory, cherry, and applewood. MIKE: Right. GREG: So we incorporate that, but in a very modern way as well. MIKE: And that wheat malt, that malted wheat, came from Virginia, from the northern neck
Virginia. Now, of course, in the malthouse they wouldn’t have said, yeah, like, cherrywood you know I want some oak, I want– they
wouldn’t have said let me take three words because this will make a beautiuflly delicate smoke I mean it was what was
available right and so that’s where the 21st century said, ‘We’ll you some local malt, but will use you know a gentleman who’s known for being an excellent butcher and a great smoker and therefore he’ll smoke our malt and this
unique product. SUSAN: Great question. So, we’re going to take two more questions before we head out, so you, right over here I think you were up there next. GREG: We’ll keep our answers short. GUEST: Hi, my name’s Jake Grover, I’m a DC homebrewer. First I want to thank Greg and Mike for your valuable
contributions to the DC beer community it’s truly appreciated. Second, I would highly encourage everyone to buy a copy
of Mike Tonsmeire’s book. It is truly an encyclopedia of knowledge on sour beers in America. Finally, I’m
really interested im the choice of wild yeast that you guys
utilized. Given that Bluejacket is one of the
few American breweries with the coolship, I’m a bit surprised
that you guys did not utilize local microflora that would have
presumably mimicked what got into the beer back in the 1810 period. Can you guys explain that choice a little bit more? GREG: I can. So, the coolship — we did a lot this brewing in the summertime. MIKE: July. GREG: So we would never be pulling, or attempting to pull, airborn yeast and bacteria out of the air at that time just because when it gets hot the possibility for really nasty
infections to occur are high. That’s why seasonal brewing existed before everybody stopped using coolships. So, until the 1860s you brewed from October to March, largely because in you brew in the summertime the beer would be unpalatable or worse, so its kinda a timing thing. Were we brewing these now we absolutely would do that, because we’ve we’ve actually pulled wild
yeast bacteria, ale yeast, out of the air, we’ve separated it out, and we’re growing cultures of it now so in the future that’ll definitely be something that probably we’d incorporate into our historic beers. SUSAN: And I think that coolship story and what Bluejacket is doing with that is also very interesting and maybe you can
talk about when we’re, afterwards, got it. One last question over
there, thank you. GUEST: could you say something about how the beers you’re trying to recreate were originally consumed? Were they consumed at home or in the pub? On special occasions, or daily, with meals,
not with meals, men, women one at a time, eight at a time? SUSAN: No, I think that’s a great question that we didn’t really get but is an important one: who is drinking these beers, and how are were they drinking them? MIKE: All right, ten seconds on the clock. Men, women, children. SUSAN: I’m timing. GREG: We can talk more later. MIKE: Yeah, but I think that’s a really good point, because when we think about scale, these beers were
massive size but the interesting thing is that these beers are being sold at a bookstore. To read the ad, you have to be literate, and america is nowhere near as literate
in 1811 as it is today. It’s not as populated and so I think this connection is notion
we have with year as a sort you know the common
everyman spirit might, this might be a sort of twist in that narrative, because– GREG: Right, maybe the spirits were the common thing. MIKE: Right, whiskey was huge. You know, I mean Garrett Peck, our friend,
makes the argument in his book that the reason that John Colette is selling his brewery in 1813 is because whiskey, is king, beer is out. Nobody wants to drink
beer anymore. Whiskey’s cheaper, you can consume it, you know, you get more bang for your buck. All of those things —
but it’s interesting, too, if you talk about like where it’s being consumed, you know, in taverns, of course, in pubs but also beer at this point in time in
America is also very much a women’s domain and
that’s important to note because this this, the Washington Brewery was really
following the Scottish-English model of sort of
industrial-scale brewing but there very very very well may have been more
brewers bring it home at that time, right, because one of the other breweries, uh, the two others in 1811 that are allowed, Hereford and Bassars,
are selling malt and yeast to the public when they’re
advertising their beer for sale they’re also advertising their malt. Yeah, Washington Brewery did not advertise malt and yeast that we know in those National Intelligencer articles, but it’s important to know that it really took a long time for the industrialization of beer to get going I mean, America was very much a home brew country at that point in time. SUSAN: There seems like there are so many
topics around this beer history idea that we could have an entire series at the American History Museum about
beer history and you can all come back for that. See? Yeah, thank you all for coming. I’m gonna turn it over to Greg who will explain what is going to happen
in terms of beer and I do wanna remind everyone that we are doing an event every month this year, except for taking
the summer off, so almost every month, looking at different topics in history so next month we’ll be looking at at the
craft distilling revolution and what’s happening in distilling so maybe even touching on
that whiskey popularity story and we invite you to come back and
thank you very much for your enthusiasm for the topic and Greg will let you know how this is gonna work. GREG: OK, so, real quick when we go outside Kyle’s got a bunch of great food. You’ll see that when you first go through, so if there’s a huge line for
me and you want a drink first, you can just skirt the line. SUSAN: Around the food. GREG: Right. On one side we’re gonna be pouring the blend, the
porter blend, into your, you’re gonna pick up a glass first when you go out, and you’ll see the food then the beer, pouring the porter blend into your glass, but then also we have pre-poured little
samples of the three threads after and then on the other side, I couldn’t help myself, I brought three other beers from Bluejacket, a barleywine called High Society that we aged in James E. Pepper bourbon barrels to showcase a different kind of “X ale” for today, and then a new sour we have called Mothra that tastes really great to show you a kind of more contemporary sour and then just to pound afterwards Forbidden Planet which is a good kolsch that we make. MIKE: If you want to try a very dry highly attenuated beer with mixed culture, Brettanomyces and a Lactobacillus, Mothra is a beautifully dry, sort of farmhouse saison that beer is dry, beautifully dry. SUSAN: And as we mentioned, Michael
Tonsmeire’s signing his book, we have objects from
the collections out of storage on display and our exhibition Food: Exploring the American Table 1950 to 2000 is also open. So, with that, thank you all
very much. We really appreciate being part of the conversation.

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