A 300-year-old beer recipe was revived by Ardent Craft Ales of Richmond, Virginia. The unique recipe was discovered in a cookbook, which includes handwritten recipes for beer, food, and medicinal remedies.
The book, which belongs to the Virginia Historical Society, is part of a collection dating back to the 1700s. As reported by Edge Boston, the recipe clearly lists the necessary ingredients: American persimmons, hops, yeast, and water. Unfortunately, it does not include quantities or clear instructions for processing.
Tom Sullivan and Kevin O’Leary, who own Ardent Craft Ales, were intrigued by the unusual recipe. Although it took a lot of trial and error, the two men have reinvented the 300-year-old beer recipe. Sullivan said it was not easy, but the end result was well worth the wait.
“With a lot of these recipes, the real fun of it is trying to figure out where the little pieces of wisdom hid in the recipes… If you’re making this stuff for yourself and your family and drinking it all the time, you bet your bottom dollar the end product was good.”
Sullivan confessed that he and O’Leary used 17 pounds of persimmons in their first batch. Unfortunately, the yield was barely three gallons.
As they were unwilling to give up, Sullivan and O’Leary eventually perfected the ancient recipe. The end result was a delightful “table beer,” which has less than 3 percent alcohol by volume.
“Jane’s Percimon Beer” is described as having “touches of sweetness and tangerine-like notes from the persimmons and just a whisper of spiciness from the English Golding hops.”
Paul Levengood, with the Virginia Historical Society, said he was pleasantly surprised that the 300-year-old beer recipe actually worked. Not only is the beer good, “it’s a fun way to bring the past into the present.”
Sullivan said he and O’Leary were inspired by their success. Fans can expect more unique beers as the historical society’s collection includes hundreds of recipes. In addition to sampling a variety of beers, Sullivan hopes patrons will be will be encouraged to learn more about the history of beer consumption and production.
In 2013, an Austrian brewery reinvented their own 300-year-old beer recipe. Hofstetten brewery originally found the list of ingredients on an invoice dated 1720. However, instead of modifying the recipe to include modern ingredients, Peter Krammer used ancient seeds — which were preserved by agricultural historians.
Reuters reports that Krammer was not satisfied with the first four batches. However, the fifth batch of “Neuhauser Herrschafts Pier” was perfect.
As craft beers continue to gain popularity, 300-year-old beer recipes are a fun and challenging way to create unique and refreshing drink.
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