Founded in 1976 in Sonoma, California, New Albion Ale was a real anomaly of the era. The company made just a few barrels of beer ever day, using small, craft techniques instead of mass market processes. New Albion shut down by 1982, but it in part opened the doors for a new industry of microbrewing.
Now, Jim McAuliffe, New Albion’s founder, and Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, are bringing New Albion back. Not a replica of New Albion, mind you, the actual beer as it was made in ’76. New Albion’s yeast has been preserved at the University of California for all these years, and now it’s being used to make the beer again. (Even the label is a reproduction of the original.)
Neat idea. So, what were those lucky few who got to drink something aside from Schlitz or Meister Brau tasting? New Albion is an American pale ale, made with American Cascade hops. Dark gold in color, it’s surprisingly sweet for a pale ale. The bitterness is quite mild, and is driven more by an orange peel character than by hops. The toasty, caramel-fueled malt lends the ale a lot of sugar on the finish. It’s really quite mouth-coating. A more bitter beer — we’d get those in time, I suppose — might be more refreshing.
Nonetheless this is a fun way to take a step back in time. If nothing else, it’s a far cry from a can of Miller Lite.
B+ / $8 per 6-pack / samueladams.com