Have you ever wondered what the beer George Washington enjoyed tasted like?
Well, Spilled Grain Brewhouse has brewed up a batch of its Colonial Ale, a historical ale that uses ingredients the founding fathers would have used to make their beer, like corn and molasses, as well as English barley, hops and yeast.
We stopped by the brewery to try the beer, which is 6.2 percent alcohol and has 26 IBUs. You can watch our review above.
Colonial Ale isn't really like anything we've ever tried before, and doesn't fit into a contemporary style of beer (if you had to pick one, it's in between a brown ale and an old ale, brewer Jacob Schnabel said). It's a very dark-colored beer, but it tastes very light, smooth and refreshing – perfect for this time of year.
We both (Josette and Melissa) gave the beer a 3 out of five – it's something we'd definitely want to drink again (see our rating system here), but probably not every day.
If you want to try the Colonial Ale, get to Spilled Grain's taproom in Annandale soon. Schnabel only brewed a single batch of it, and last year – the first year he brewed the beer – "it went like wildfire."
You'll be able to buy it on tap, in to-go growlers and crowlers. And if you miss out, Schnabel says it'll be back next year.
How'd he come up with the beer?
Spilled Grain Brewhouse is located in Annandale – home to the longest-running Fourth of July celebration in Minnesota (this is the 128th straight year), which attracts thousands of people every year.
That was Schnabel's inspiration for the beer. He wanted to brew something to celebrate the event, and when you think of the Fourth of July, you think of 1776 – so why not make a beer that tastes like what people would have had back then?
Schnabel, who enjoys the challenge of brewing to style, did a lot of research to figure out what people in the 1770s would have used to make beer. So he brewed the beer based on the ingredients they used, without a specific style or flavor in mind.
To make the beer, Schnabel used specialty grains that would best mimic the under-modified, more rustic malts that people would have used 250 years ago. He also used corn and molasses in the beer, because those are ingredients that would have been easily available to people in colonial America.
"This was a little bit of a different challenge for me. I had to let go of my OCD for a little bit and just kind of let 'er fly," Schnabel said with a laugh. "It was a lot of fun to see what came out the other side."
The beer has flavors of toffee, toast and burnt marshmallow, and is on the sweeter side (not bitter), which people would have liked back then, Schnabel said.
But he admits that the Colonial Ale is probably "no where close to what they actually drank" in the 1770s because of the modern brewing practices he uses and the control he has, noting "we didn't just throw those out the window, obviously, brewing this."