The Queen City of the West sits, of course, in American beer history’s inner circle. In the late 1800s it was home to some of the largest and most famous brewers in the country, like Moerlein and Kauffman and Windisch-Muhlhauser, to name a few. In 1890 Cincinnati produced over 1.2 million barrels of beer (!) and was dubbed the “Beer Capital of the World” (which sounds better than ‘Porkopolis,’ doesn’t it?).
Recently a fellow blogger and beer archeologist named Jordan Rex asked me for some thoughts on the ways we think about beer history. Check out the interview on his blog, Timely Tipple, and then check out some of his other excellent posts.
Both today and in the past, beer and innovation go hand in hand. The best brewers working today are the ones that collaborate, experiment with clever adjuncts and non-traditional styles, and push the envelope with new or creative technologies. I’ve seen breweries using centrifuges to help remove particulates left in the wort–how cool is that?
But when celebrating innovation, it’s important to remember that the old ways of doing things were once the new ways of doing things. I recently had the chance to explore some lasting (and at times forgotten) monuments to innovative brewing: Cincinnati’s vast lager beer cellars.
In early 2011, President Obama became the first brewer-in-chief. Using a personal homebrewing kit, White House chefs produced a honey ale which the president first served at a Superbowl Party (as is tradition) and later shared with Medal of Honor recipient and former USMC Sergeant Dakota Meyer. Reportedly, the White House Brewery has gone on to make a honey blonde and a honey porter as well, with the honey coming from a beehive on the South Lawn (beekeeping is another first for Pennsylvania Ave). I’m pretty curious as to what “presidential” beer tastes like, and if any of you homebrewers out there want to find out, recipes are available through the White House blog.
Something wondrous happened in November 2015 for the world of American beer, and I don’t just mean the Bourbon County release. After three decades or so of feverish expansion and diversification among the U.S.’s breweries and brews, the nation shattered a record that stood for 142 years. In 1873 there were 4,131 U.S. breweries and as of November there were 4,144. That number has since climbed to 4,269 and shows no signs of stopping. For craft beer’s foreseeable future, every new brewery is a historic celebration, and every day’s a new record.