Young and Hungry

Nearly 400-Year-Old Maryland Beer Finally Available in Stores

OK, technically, the beer is brand new. 1634 Ale is produced by Brewer's Alley in Frederick, which has brewed the beer exclusively from ingredients that were available to colonists in the early 1600s, when the province of Maryland was founded. The ale, created to celebrate Maryland's 375th anniversary, will be available in package stores on June 3.

As the press release notes:

"1634 Ale" was created by Tom Flores, master brewer and Maggie Lenz, head brewer, at Brewer's Alley, a brewpub in Frederick, MD, following research of historic recipes and raw materials available in the early 1600s. "We used ingredients that would have been found in the austere conditions of early colonial Maryland," said Flores of his rye-based ale recipe that includes malted wheat, molasses and caraway. Flores says caramel and dark malts round out the flavor of the "lighter bodied ale."

So how does 1634 Ale taste? For that answer, we need to turn to Rob Kasper, the beer guru with the Baltimore Sun:

It is a dark, reddish ale, with a faint sweetness, and an intriguing finish.

The sweetness comes from molasses, Flores told me , the finish from caraway seeds. These ingredients, along with malted rye, went into the brew because they were what a colonial brewer would have on hand he said. It is lightly hopped because "hops were hard to come by in the colonies," Flores said.

As for style, Flores described it as "a rustic, primitive ale."

I found 1634 to be a pleasing dark ale, a tad sweet, with a distinctive rye finish. At about 5 percent ABV, it easy to drink.

The ale, according to the release, "will serve as the official beer at the Maryland's Birthday Bash celebration in Historic St. Mary's City on June 20." Brewer's Alley plans to produce the beer through 2009 and possibly longer, depending on public reaction.

Photo courtesy of Brewer's Alley