One of the many surprising things that my research into historical IPA brewing uncovered was the abundance of American brewers that were brewing IPAs before prohibition. Most of the late 1800s IPA brewing was centered in the Northeast United States, as the Midwest was already becoming the stronghold of many of the German-inspired lager breweries that later dominated the American beer industry for many years.
These IPA brewers in the Northeast took much of their inspiration from the Burton brewing process, which meant that the beer was brewed with only pale malt, and was aged for an extended period in wood. Wood could be in the form of barrels, or large vats-which was the case with Fiegenspan and Ballantine. Hops were typically American Cluster, and Fuggles and whatever the brewers could get from Europe. Beer clarity was very important, I remember seeing old adverstisements for CH Evans IPA that claimed no sediment, no dregs.
Peter Egleston, John Thompson, and Dave Yarrington from Smuttynose Brewing Co. helped point me in several directions for my research into the Frank Jones Brewery of Portsmouth New Hampshire, one of the biggest IPA brewers back in the day, and recently Peter sent me this piece from the Greenway Brewing Co., which I found interesting:
I wasn’t familar with the Greenway Brewing Co. from Syracuse New York, but a quick internet search shows that the brewery was one of the biggest in New York State. Not sure if it was bigger than CH Evans of Albany in their prime. Some really interesting things about this sheet on their IPA:
1. The abv is just a hair over 7% by volume (alcohol by weight x 5/4 = alcohol by volume). 7% was kind of the industry standard for IPA in the 1800s.
2. The final gravity, 1.015 is not that dry, a little sweeter than normal for the times. 1.015 Specific gravity equates to 3.75°P, which is about the upper limit of what I’d recommend in an IPA. Some of the English and Scottish versions from the same time period finished as dry as 1.0-1.5 °P.
3. The health claims are not unusual for the times either. In England, IPA was recommended frequently by physicians for those with stomach or sleep ailments. And one can see similar recommendations in the US.
When I was learning about pre-prohibition IPAs brewed in the United States, I focused most of my research on CH Evans from Albany NY, Frank Jones in Portsmouth, Fiegenspan and Ballantine in Newark. But it’s interesting that I was able to find IPA brewing references from many other breweries in that area, though I didn’t have time to research these other breweries as much as I would have liked to.
Regarding the Frank Jones Brewery, the buildings of the old Frank Jones Brewery still stand in Portsmouth NH. Below are some photos I took a couple of years ago in Portsmouth of the old brewery buildings that didn’t make it into the IPA book. It was really great to see these buildings and imagine what it was like back when they were brewing.
Portsmouth is a wonderful town, just a great place to visit. I can’t believe I never did the brewery research when I lived in New Hampshire, but was glad to get an opportunity to dive in later.
For further reading, I suggest the book : Brewing in New Hampshire by Glenn A. Knoblock.
And have fun with this:
Frank Jones Brewery Song (c. 1897)
Come all you Jolly Sportsmen and listen to a song,
I will sing to you a verse or two I won’t detain you long,
Concerning Jones’ Brewery, indeed it look so neat,
The like of it you’ll never find in any other state,
Hurrah for Jones’ brewery, may it never fail
Brew us beer and porter and beautiful stock ale,
That’s the stuff for me, my boys, it drives away all pain,
Whenever I can get a glass of it I’ll have it just the same.
It is a splendid building, as we all well know,
The like of it you’ll never find, no matter where you go,
It is so well constructed, kept so neat and clean,
The mash floor and the cellar and the tun room just the same
Brewers they are so clever in brewing this splendid beer,
Jones golden cream ale, called for far and near,
Drank in Philadelphia and in the State of Maine,
In New York and Boston is called for just the same.
If you go cellar, what a splendid sight,
You’ll see a staff of hearty young fellows, full of mirth and glee,
Chiming up the barrels, just like any train,
Racking, or rolling out, or shipping, just the same.
There you’ll see Yankee Denny with his beautiful big nose,
Placing the barrels so neatly into rows,
If you never knew him or heard of his name,
You’ll know him by his bawling and hollering, just the same.
There you’ll see Paddy Holoran, he is just like any bull,
No matter where you’ll find him, he is sure to be full,
If he don’t get it at the cupboard, he cannot be blamed,
He will have it out of Jerry, or the rack tub, just the same.
I went to the hall the other night, there I did behold,
A house full of fine democrats, both noble, stout and bold,
Going to fight the republicans and uphold the country’s fame.
Republicans and democrats will drink it just the same.
It’s there I noticed Mr. Jones among the noble throng,
He is always agitating for the cause of the working man.
As for this coming election, he need not be afraid,
I hope I’ll see him governor of this New Hampshire State.
All these oily druggists boast of their little pills,
And they say they can cure all diseases from the toothache to the “jims.”
What are they to Jones’ ale? I am sure it is quite plain,
When all these pills and drugs do fail, it will cure you just the same.
Now to conclude and finish, I am feeling a little dry,
I sung to you a verse or two all without a lie,
If you take me to the bar I am sure you’ll get no blame,
And give Paddy a schooner of it, he will have it just the same.