A not-so-hearty ale for Ben

Published January 13, 2006 1:35 am
Only in Utah: A commemorative brew for Ben Franklin's 300th birthday has 3.2 percent alcohol, not 6.6
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This month, more than 100 brew pubs around the country will celebrate the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Frank- lin's birth.

All of them except one will follow a recipe for Poor Richard's Ale that emulates a beer the forefathers might have enjoyed after a heated democratic debate.

The exception - you guessed it - is Utah, where not even American history can trump the 3.2 beer law.

"The rest of the country is going back to colonial times, but we're going back to Prohibition," joked Matt Beamer, head brewer at Park City's Wasatch Brew Pub, the only Utah brewery participating in the anniversary celebration.

Beamer said he would love to join his national brewing colleagues and make the original ale, which contains 6.6 percent alcohol. But since Utah liquor laws prevent that, "I've just decided to have fun with it," he said. Wasatch Brew Pub is especially fond of the colonial era after the success of its First Amendment Lager, introduced in 2003.

"It's fun to jump back into the era of Ben Franklin, even if we are doing something completely unique," Beamer said.

Poor Richard's Ale is made with corn and molasses, two distinctly American ingredients, that give it a copper color and a malty, slightly nutty aroma and flavor, according to the Brewers Association, a national nonprofit trade and educational association for small independent craft brewers and sponsor of the event.

A single recipe was chosen by brewers and historians last October and distributed so that brewers could make a batch to serve on Jan. 17, Franklin's birthday. The name of the ale comes from Franklin's well-known at http://www.beer town.org.

Beamer has made 465 gallons of the Utah version and tapped the first keg on Monday.

"It turned out great," said Beamer, noting that his lighter Utah creation has a complex malt flavor and subdued bitter taste. The ale costs the same as other Wasatch brews: $3 for a 12-ounce glass, $4 for a pint and $10 for a 16-ounce pitcher.

"People have really responded and suggested that I turn it into a year-round beer," Beamer said. "That to me indicates that people are enjoying it."

Ben Franklin would like that.


Contact Kathy Stephenson at kathys@sltrib.com or 801-257-8612. Send comments about this storyto livingeditor@ sltrib.com



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