Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beer, Museums, Archives

On Monday, August 9th, as part of DC's Beer Week, a homebrewer and DC Brau premiered a recreation of a pre-prohibition beer once brewed by Christian Heurich. The launch party doubled as a fundraiser for the Heurich House Museum, and yours truly was there.

Image of the Heurich house via the Library of
Congress and the Museum.

Image via the Washington City Paper.
The beer itself is an impressive feat. One might expect a late-19th century/early-20th century lager to be a bit rough around the edges. Instead, though it checks in at 7% alcohol by volume (ABV), it is smooth, crisp, and easy drinking, and appears a shade of gold. At a slightly higher gravity, the density of water and grain prior to fermentation as compared to water, it might qualify as malt liquor today, needing only a bit more sweetness from corn in the grain bill. As is, it drinks like a Kolsch-style ale, albeit somewhat "imperialized." Corn sugars, and lemon and straw notes from Czech hops, popular at the time, dominate the front end of the beer. The finish is semi-dry; a haze of lemon and corn syrup that quickly dissipates. It would be easy, but a mistake, to drink a lot of this as corn sugars and citrus hide the alcohol well.

Local homebrewer and DCBeer contributor Michael Stein put a lot of work into researching and recreating this beer, utilizing the Heurich archives as well as those of the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, which was then commercially brewed at DC Brau Brewing Company. We'll never know if the beer is a true replica, two-row barley is now far more popular than it was a hundred years ago, for example, but as a reinterpretation it works quite well.

L-R: Jan Evans, Christian Heurich's granddaughter; Ed McMahon;
Michael Stein; Director Kim Bender; DC Brau's Jeff Hancock; Asst Dir. Rachel Jerome.
A happy coincidence: the archivist of the Heurich House Museum is a recent graduate of my place of work. We recognized each other, always a good sign when a former student recognizes a librarian, and it was nice to catch up.

Heurich beer labels.

The bierstube, or drinking room.

Because every house should have a walk-in meat smoker.
For more of me drinking in museums:

At the Library of Congress, in April. Devils Backbone
Vienna Lager. 
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon on cask at the Air and
Space Museum in March. Source.

No comments:

Post a Comment