Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Old Lightning Rod Day is Saturday, February 19, at Bank Street Brewhouse.

In 2011, the New Albanian Brewing Company has delayed the release of its much-anticipated annual batch of Old Lightning Rod in order that a more appropriate, "Colonial-Themed" party could be thrown.

Accordingly, OLD LIGHTNING ROD DAY will take place at the Bank Street Brewhouse on Saturday, February 19 from Noon to 6:00 p.m.


The Colonial Ale:

NABC Old Lightning Rod (see specs below)

OLR is a chance to taste the 18th-century flavor of Colonial-style American Ale. NABC unveiled its first version of Poor Richard's "Old Lightning Rod" on January 17, 2006, for the occasion of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday, when more than 100 breweries nationwide joined to brew a period recipe based on an award-winning formulation.

Old Lightning Rod has become one of NABC’s most popular seasonals, as brewed by Jared Williamson at the original NABC “garage” brewery on Grant Line Road.

On Old Lightning Rod Day, February 19, NABC’s daily beers also will be available at Bank Street Brewhouse, as will hard ciders and wines from the Thomas Family Winery, with selected spirits also on hand. Bring your empty growlers, and take Ben’s ale home with you.

The Colonial Food:
"His Lordship’s Beef" (Caterers of Fine Victuals)

Otherwise known as our great friend Steve Thomas of the Thomas Family Winery, will be cooking Colonial-style with the assistance of Chef Josh Lehman’s Bank Street kitchen. They’ll be cooking an entrĂ©e of Steak and Ale, with Ben Franklin’s favorite side items: Clapshot (turnips and potatoes in butter) and Pease (peas in chicken stock and butter, topped with fresh mint). The price is $12 per person, with the usual Bank Street menu resuming at 6:00 p.m.

The Colonial Music:

(TBA; I'll fill in this blank as soon as the ink on the contract dries.)

The Colonial Attire:

Come to the party dressed Colonially, and receive a free copy of Tony’s Beard’s revised and updated Old Lightning Rod poster, pictured above.

It's inside and out (on the covered and heated BSB patio), and we’re sorry, but horse-drawn parking is not available in downtown New Albany.


The Essay: NABC and Old Lightning Rod, by Roger A. Baylor

It wasn’t enough that Benjamin Franklin was a writer, inventor, businessman, statesman, patriot and all-purpose wit.

The creative Colonial-era legend somehow found time to drink beer, too.

In his writings, Franklin refers to the consumption of ale and describes various types of the fermented beverage, concluding that it was a healthy drink if consumed in moderation – an observation with which modern medical science concurs.

Even a teetotaler might be curious as to what these ales of old were like and how they were brewed, but unfortunately, substantive information is scant.

When the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a non-profit group formed to organize the celebration for Franklin’s 300th birthday on January 17, 2006, began looking for an answer to this question, they found it by teaming with the Brewers Association, which commissioned a competition among professional brewers to formulate a Poor Richard’s Ale named for the famous Almanac.

Tony Simmons of Brick Oven Brewing produced the winning recipe, chosen by a panel of experts at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival. According to Simmons, his act of historical recreation was determined by the following factors:

Style ... Based on Franklin’s own writings, other period references and records of available raw materials, it is likely that he often drank tankards of a libation similar to Old Ale (England) or Strong Scotch Ale (Scotland).

Malt … “Low” (pale malt, similar to today’s Maris Otter or English floor malt) and “High” (darker malt, perhaps approximating a combination of what we now call Biscuit, Special Roast and Black) malts probably were used.

Adjuncts … During the Colonial era, imported malt was expensive and local barley crops were unpredictable, so the use of cracked maize and molasses in brewing was common.

Hops … Hop production in America did not begin in earnest until after Franklin’s passing, making it likely that traditional East Kent Goldings imported from England were the hops of choice.

Yeast … Not until the mid-19th century did modern scientific techniques unravel the mysteries of yeast, so it’s impossible to know very much about 18th-century yeast management. Simmons suggests that contemporary English or Scottish strains of yeast (low to moderate attenuation) will suffice to replicate Colonial fermentations.

The Brewers Association asked member breweries nationwide to join in the celebration of Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday by brewing a special batch of Poor Richard’s Ale and having it ready for serving on January 17, 2006.

The New Albanian Brewing Company's brewers at that time, Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson, followed the broad contours of Simmons's recipe, adding a few touches of their own like extra finishing hops and oak chips to add wooden barrel-conditioned character. They also suggested an alternative name, "Old Lightning Rod," which we've duly incorporated to identify the finished product.

The finished product is malty and on the sweet side, both expected owing to low hopping and the use of molasses and corn.

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