While there is no doubt the current craft beer revolution rests at the mash paddle of Boston Beer's, Jim Koch, there are pursuits dating back even further. Mr. Peabody, set the wayback machine for 1976, for it's there we find Jack McAuliffe and his New Albion Ale.
In 1976, I was 4 and looking for…well, I'm not really sure, but Jack McAuliffe, navy veteran, knew what he was looking for, better beer.
While stationed in Scotland, Jack gained an appreciation for good beer and soon thereafter, delved into homebrewing and eventually started the nation's first craft brewery, the New Albion Brewing Company.
Although Jack's brewery was forced to close in 1982 due to a weak economy, his early efforts in pursuit of craft beer are felt today.
"Jack was brewing craft beer when nothing was easy. Nobody made small scale brewing equipment, nobody waned to invest, retailers and distributors didn't want your beer, drinkers couldn't understand why the beer didn't taste "normal." It was so different from today," says Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch.
Fast forward thirty years.
Jim Koch describes New Albion Ale as "the original craft beer", which is why, 30 years later, he invited Jack to Boston in July of 2012 to brew his flagship beer.
By today's standard, New Albion is fairly "normal", which goes to show just how far American craft beer has come in the last 30 years. The beer poured with a small head that dissipated quickly. It had a malty, bready taste and a really nice hop undercurrent that started at the middle and carried all the way though to the end, thanks to the cascade hops. This was a really enjoyable session-able beer. By today's standards, New Albion is fairly standard, but when viewed through the lens of the past, I can see why it was so radical and different.
This is good…and important. It shows just how far we have come and if it wasn't for the pioneering spirit of Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch, it would have never happened.
New Albion Ale is available now, for a limited time. If you can, pick up a six pack and experience the history of craft beer. My locals have it, I hope yours do too.
Note: Samuel Adams provided me with a sample of New Albion and if they had not, I would have found my own.