We often get the question what comes first: the story and the illustration or the beer and the botanicals. Well it differs. In case of our Autumn Ale it’s the main idea of wanting to do something different to the oh so popular yet often one dimensional bock beers.
Bock as a beer style in the Netherlands is largely dominated by traditional brands, behaving in a very traditional way, with traditional liquid profiles. So we wanted to create something light not dark. Accessible not strong (in alcohol). Refreshing not sweet. Something worth exploring.
how a Lowlander beer is born
It then brought me back to a conversation with Frank from Rungis – a fine food purveyor who delivers all kinds of fantastic produce to all the best restaurants. He prompted me in October 2019 about cranberries and the fact that the season just started. Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which means they are not only good for you but keep for a long time. The combination of cranberry with ginger in my head was quickly made – the tart acidic kick combined with the warming ginger spice notes could work as a treat. And the first test proved just that. Perfect on a wheat base beer style with banana esters, clove phenols and hints of spice. And some citrus and floral notes coming from the hops.
The best thing is that the (hi)story of cranberries is also fascinating. Originally native to Northern states of America they were taken in barrels during long voyages to protect the crew from the dreaded scurvy. The shipping routes ran from the ocean through the English Channel, right along the Dutch Wadden islands, towards Scandinavia. Many ships were wrecked in the treacherous shallow waters off the coast of Terschelling and the drift wood of the ships was used to built houses.
Legend has it that in 1840 a beachcomber, Pieter Sipkes Cupido, came across a barrel washed ashore on the shipwreck-riddled coast of the northern island of Terschelling. Sorely disappointed that he discovered no liquor or wine and only these exotic red berries, he kicked over the contents with his clog; leaving the cranberries to seize the opportunity to conquer the wet dune valley. The berry appeared to thrive on the mudflats and the Terschelling cranberry is now considered to be one of the best best in the world.
So in the case of our Autumn Ale in the making it is the beer first, then the botanicals and then the story- all nicely coming together.
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