What's Brewing: 'Our Pour Fathers of Thanksgiving'
The history of Thanksgiving can be traced back to multiple locations around the world in which celebrations occurred to give thanks to prosperous harvests. Of course, these harvests included some of the essential ingredients used to make beer.
Beer wasn't only on the table for these festive events between Native Americans and pilgrims, but was a commodity that even the Egyptians used as a means to pay laborers who were building pyramids. All around the world people consumed beer as a means to drink safe water. Beer was brewed for it's antimicrobial agents that prevented disease and allowed it to last much longer than boiled water left in containers.
Since people consumed beer then like we consume water today, sugars were left out to eliminate organisms that promote spoilage and to reduce alcohol. I often imagined porters as the choice beverage around the early days of Thanksgiving when in fact porters didn't show up until 1722. Pale ales didn't come about until the 1700s so we know they weren't a part of the occasion.
The most likely beer style consumed on Thanksgivings during the 1600s were IPAs due to the fact that the English had learned to use an abundant amount of hops to preserve beer for long journeys to India. They were the main source of water stocked on all ships including the Mayflower which is how it arrived on our shores in 1621.
We're grateful that our forefathers endured those challenging years while continuing to craft better beer. We're grateful for the abundant tastes we find in craft beer today and especially from our neighborhood brewers who continue to use local and regional ingredients.
Most important is that, over the centuries, Thanksgiving has morphed into an occasion in which we outwardly share our gratefulness for all things in life with our family and friends.
May we all remind ourselves how grateful we really are this Thanksgiving Day. Here are a few brews that seem to lend themselves nicely to the occasion. Cheers!
Mark Brewer is the Tribune-Review beer columnist.
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Fruit beer (4.8% ABV). Pours pink with an orange hue. Hazy with a white head that dissipates quickly. Aroma of bread and fruit. Tart tasting cranberry with light bready malt character. Light body and well carbonated. Finishes with a bubbly effervescence and lingering tartness from cranberries.
Pennsylvania Brewing Co.
Brown Ale (5% ABV). Pours amber color with a modest head. Aromas of cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel. Nuttiness with flavors of cinnamon, clove, vanilla and maple syrup. Medium body and well carbonated.
Wells & Young's Ltd.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Pie
Brown Ale (5% ABV). Pours ruby red with a frothy tan head. Fragrances of vanilla and caramel. Sweet tastes of vanilla, toffee and caramel. Light body and well carbonated. Finishes slightly bitter with a foamy mouth feel.