Friday, April 24, 2015

#DCBreweryChallenge: Bluejacket Brewery - Historic Beers

Before a Washington Nationals game this week, I hit Metro early in order to visit Bluejacket Brewery - located just two blocks north of the stadium. The brewery has a vast and varied beer selection (at least 20 beers), ranging from Kolsch to Stout. I asked for something on the tart or sour side and the bartender recommended two styles of Farmhouse Ales or the 1812 Project - Blend Porter. Now, you normally don't associate this style with tartness, but the 1812 Project is quite unique. Under the direction of Beer Director and Sommelier Greg Engert's direction, Bluejacket is resurrecting historical beer recipes that were once brewed in the District. According to Mary Beth Albright, breweries were once the 2nd largest employer in Washington DC after the Federal Government and one of the very first breweries was Washington Brewery. Thus Bluejacket decided to produce three of their former beers: Table Ale, Strong Ale, and X Ale. Without the actual recipes they improvised.
So although Engert and his project collaborator Michael Stein didn’t have beer recipes, they set out to find the best ingredients to produce flavor profiles matching the pleasantly sour and complex beers of two centuries ago, when brewing methods allowed in more naturally-occurring bacteria. They located the oldest American-grown hop varietal, cluster hops, and their amber malt, used frequently in period brewing, came from 200-year-old maltster Thomas Fawcett.
Since the Washington Brewery advertised itself as a "Beer and Porter" brewery, the team blended the three beers as was the Porter style 200 years ago. The result is a masterpiece and nothing like modern day Porters. It's tart with a funky cherry depth that finishes with chocolate. The Table Ale and X Ale provide the tartness, fruit, and funk with the Strong Ale attributing the color, more funk, and chocolate. This is a limited release, so hurry up to a Nats game and enjoy from historic ales. Cheers.

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Update:I've updated the post based on clarifications from Mike Stein.

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