WOODSTOCK — Woodstock Brewhouse brewers Hunter Phillips and Ira Poplar-Jeffers dove deep into the history of Shenandoah County when looking for inspiration in creating a special brew to commemorate the county’s 250th anniversary.
In collaboration with Box Office Brewery in Strasburg and Swover Creek Farm Brewery in Edinburg, the brewers developed an olde style ale for the occasion.
“I was just looking for any kind of inspiration,” Phillips said of his research. “I try to know everything I can about a beer before I work on a recipe. I was surprised to find out just who settled here first. I do really enjoy having a purpose for brewing a beer.”
The olde ale style, for example, was picked to be a tribute to the history of the valley as “the bread basket of the south,” Poplar-Jeffers said. The beer was also brewed with local ingredients.
“Olde ale was brewed historically when there wasn’t widespread access to certain ingredients. I can order hops or barley or yeast from all around the world, but back then they used what they had,” Phillips said. “So they had to use local stuff. That’s what we’ve done.”
According to the recipe, the mash ingredients for 7 1/2 barrels of the brew included 330 pounds of pale malt, 25 pounds of caramel malt, 20 pounds of flaked yellow corn and 8 pounds of dark chocolate malt. Other ingredients in the brewing process include 20 pounds of molasses, 4 pounds and 8 ounces each of Fuggles hops and Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hops. The brew is fermented with British ale yeast.
Phillips said he chose to use flaked corn in the brew’s mash, which isn’t uncommon in an olde ale. That choice stemmed from the county’s history with corn mills, he said. He said many olde ales use molasses rather than barley malt syrup, and he chose to go that route as well.
When it came to choosing hops, Phillips said he again paid attention to the county’s history, researching who the early settlers were.
He said they eventually settled on Fuggles, a classic English hop, and Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, a classic German hop.
“A lot of the early settlers here came from England, Ireland and Scotland. We also have a big German influx,” Phillips said.
The brew has a copper-red color and has a malty taste with a draft finish from flaked corn and local molasses with some nutty notes and caramel sweetness with a floral hop balance. The beer is 6% alcohol.
“It’s a cleaner, brown ale,” Phillips said. “Sometimes an average olde ale comes with an acquired taste, but I knew this was going to be a countywide thing. It’s not watered down or anything, but we made it more approachable and drinkable for everyone.”
Phillips has christened the brew Dunmore’s Olde Ale, paying homage to the original name of the county. The name isn’t official yet, Phillips said.
The brewers have made seven barrels of the olde ale, which is about 217 gallons. It’s currently finishing the fermentation process and will then be kegged and ready to drink by July.
The brew will first be available on July 1 at Woodstock Brewhouse, Box Office Brewery in Strasburg and Swover Creek Farm Brewery in Edinburg and will be on hand at the “Honoring Our Past, Inspiring Our Future” festival at the Hottel-Keller Homestead in Toms Brook on Sept. 10.
For more information on events surrounding the county’s 250th anniversary, visit sc250.org.