A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Robert Moss -

I'm loving these posts on Albany Ale. Since I first started following them back in April, I've done a lot of research into beer brewing in the South, which (although there was a brewer named Egan here in my town of Charleston, SC in the 18th century) really took off after the Civil War. Key to this were two factors: German immigrants and the invention of mechanical ice manufacturing. Not so important in the North, where ice was available from lakes during winter and stored in icehouses year-round, but critical in the South.

And that has me thinking: I wonder if both the German immigrant explosion of the 1840s along with the development of the "frozen water" industry around the same time is responsible for lager beer eclipsing the older style Albany Ale? I know ice was essential to cooling lager both during brewing but also keeping it cold during storage, and that cool temperature, in turn, was responsible for the clear, pale color, but how important was ice/cooling to the process of brewing ale?

Alan -

Yes, I think I have come across plenty of references to both the use of ice as well as early lager makers being the ones who invested in the refrigeration technology to move into a more controlled process. Ale in 1800s N. America does not have that so much with the higher fermentation temperatures and the shorter production cycle. If you have a look at the mid-1800s description of the Taylor's brewery in Albany there is no reference to refrigeration or ice that I have picked out.

Scott -

Regarding hop farming in CNY during the mid 1800's, there were actually a few 'varieties' of hops grown alongside Cluster. While Cluster was the most widely known and popular, it seems varieties like "True Canada" and "Humphries" often made up 1/3 or more of the total harvest on some farms; multiple varieties prevented total crop failure and apparently some were ready to harvest at different times. However, I have not found any information regarding the aroma/flavor/bitterness characteristics of these other varieties.

Alan -

Good work. Here is a reference to "True Canada" which was apparently true in that there was a lot of bootleg Canadian hops going around. The text is a little later from the 1880s by which they are referring to "English Cluster" but it does describe the first hop growing in central NY in 1808. It also confirms that there were earlier US hops grown in NY east of the Hudson as well as in VT.

dave -

It seems most information about the Pompey strain is the fact that "not so well known; the vines are very large, having long branches on which the hops hang in clusters. They are more apt to be injured by rust and insects than the other two kinds mentioned; both are early varieties" [the other two varieties being English Cluster and Grape Hops] American Journal of Pharmacy, Volume 43

They were also a less valuable hop, compared to the other two. Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 9

And Pompey were a late season hop. (Forget where I read that.)

Alan -

Excellent. Give that is mid-1860s, it would be interesting to know when "Cluster" became "English" and then when it lost its English-ness again.

Eric Farr -

Im so glad you are researching this and it seems like you are learning a lot about brewing the process! Wouldnt that be great to see the comeback of Albany Ale? It definitely has a "ring" to it, dont you think?

Ethan -

Maybe you should consider a trip to this, the Madison County Hop Fest:

http://www.mchs1900.org/hopfest/index.php

http://www.examiner.com/events-in-syracuse/15th-annual-hops-festival-is-set-for-on-oneida-september-18

Alan -

Hey - maybe the inevitable recreation of this brew could use locally grown Cluster. Good links.