Wednesday, September 07, 2016

One vast hospital: Flying Dog's Saw Bones Ginger Table Beer.

It was our first evening in Frederick, Maryland, and we happened upon an old, dignified building with Ralph Steadman's crazed images filling a window display.

Eastern USA Road Trip 2016, Day 9: Antietam and a detour through Civil War medicine.

The building is the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

Follow in the footsteps of soldiers and surgeons to discover the harsh conditions, personal sacrifices, and brilliant innovations of Civil War medicine, innovations that continue to save lives today.

The window display was about a special collaboration beer from Flying Dog, born in Colorado, now a Frederick staple. I'm old enough to remember the Denver facility, as visited during the GABF.

In 1990, George (Stranahan) founded the Flying Dog Brewpub in Aspen, Colorado. From that brewpub to a full-fledged Denver brewery (co-founded by George and his longtime friend and partner, Richard McIntyre) in 1994, and then to our current state-of-the-art brewing facility in Frederick, Maryland, Flying Dog continues to make sense.

The special beer is offbeat even by Flying Dog standards.

Flying Dog is Ready to Release its Civil War-Inspired Beer: Saw Bones, by James Michael Causey (Washingtonian)

Bottles and battles come together with the May 27 release of Saw Bones, a first-time collaboration between two Frederick-based entities: Flying Dog Brewery and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

It’s a unique pairing, admits David Price, executive director of the museum, whose mission is to research and preserve the legacy of Civil War-era medicine. Price, a consultant on the PBS series Mercy Street about a Civil War hospital in Alexandria, says the beer is part of a wider outreach campaign to make history more exciting–not to mention palatable.

As befits a beer with Ralph Steadman's art on the label, Flying Dog gets sassy with the whole concept.

During the height of the Civil War, our hometown of Frederick was given the nickname “One Vast Hospital.” With Maryland smack dab in the middle of the Union and Confederacy, patients often outnumbered residents. To this day, if you stand on a quiet street after sunset, you can still hear them singing “Hard Tack Come Again No More.”

Despite pioneering a good bit of modern medicine, doctors were dubbed “saw bones.” While the literal sometimes occurred for those on the wrong end of a musket, Saw Bones were also revered for hand-made elixirs in which the cure-all nature of both ginger and lemon were common.

To pay homage to the hard-working people on Mercy Street, we enlisted the National Museum of Civil War Medicine to bring you a new Saw Bones in the form of a Belgian-style table beer with ginger and lemon. Crisp and clean on the palette with bold citrus, spice and malt character, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

So, in the end, we visited the museum and I bought a six-pack. Saw Bones reminds me of NABC's Tafel, and I like it, even with less ginger character than I'd have thought. It's a one-off, and isn't expected to return.


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