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Democrat and Chronicle

Reinvention Brewing celebrates Wayne County's bicentennial with 1823 Ale

By Mike Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle,


MACEDON, NY – Hmm, what would a Wayne County settler in 1823 use in a home-brewed beer?

And now, in 2023 – the bicentennial year of Wayne County – how would a brewer replicate that old-timey beer, given the knowledge available and the ingredients to work with today? Most important, how would one make a drinkable beer using those guidelines?

The things that George Aldrich, co-owner with wife Kristy of Reinvention Brewing Co. in Manchester, ponders while having fun investigating history and developing a beer to reflect the search through time.

“It’s like a puzzle to solve,” George Aldrich said.

His solution in this case is 1823 Ale, which he brewed specially for the county’s bicentennial and for Long Acre Farms, which is offering the new “old” beer in its JD Wine Cellars tasting room to mark its long history in the Wayne County town of Macedon.

The fourth-generation Long Acre Farms is famed for its intricate corn mazes, and this year, in celebrating the county’s 200 years, maze navigators will be offered a throwback one of sorts.

Long Acres’ first maze design came out in 1998, when the county celebrated 175 years, according to Audrey Allen, who is tasting room manager and part of that fourth generation. Why not revisit it for the 200th? She again turned to Aldrich, who has collaborated on beers to fit maze themes in the past.

“He had a great idea,” Allen said.

The founding of the county occurred before the pilsner malting process was invented in Germany, so an 1823 beer would not have been a pale beer, Aldrich surmised. Nor would it have been a port or a stout because they hadn’t really caught on or made it over to the then new country at that point, Aldrich said.

The earliest settlers made beer with whatever they could, including pumpkins and corn as well as a lot of wheat and barley, Aldrich said.

Using what they had, the county’s earliest settlers would have made something that would have been brownish amber in color.

Aldrich envisioned a light English style but using all New York ingredients. He tried a combination of different malts to get the color just right and used an heirloom variety of Crystal hops, which are grown at Cobblestone Hop Yard in Wayne County.

What you have is a beer that is light on the palate, with some notes of the sweetness of honey and maybe even a little raisin character, Aldrich said, with a nice, bright floral aroma and just enough hops to know it’s there but without an overwhelming bitterness.

“Again, my goal is always a drinkable beer, something you want to have another,” Aldrich said.

This isn’t Aldrich’s first foray into brewing historically themed beers. Last year, his Paddle Faster, I Hear Banjos Kentucky common ale was based on a style of beer popular in the Louisville area in the mid- to late-1800s and right up until Prohibition..

After coming up with the recipe for 1823 Ale, he said he’s not sure how to describe this one.

“It doesn’t fit into a style guideline at all,” Aldrich said.

Regardless, Allen said he pulled it off. The 1823 Ale is available at the tasting room for the farm’s opening Fall Festival Weekends this Saturday and through October, as well as at Reinvention's Manchester tasting room later in the month, and she predicts a hit.

“This works great because even though it’s darker in color, it’s awesome because it’s so very light, which is great for our clientele,” Allen said. “It’s a perfect addition for this year.”

Both businesses have collaborated in the past on beers that complement the farm’s maze themes, beginning with a cider doughnut English ale in 2020 and followed by Sunshine of your Love Cream Ale, brewed with flaked maize, and last year, a honey brown, amber ale, in honor of honey and bees.

“Being small business owners, it’s really important to us in supporting other small business owners, which is another reason why this partnership has worked so well,” Allen said. “We’re both family-owned businesses and we want each other to do as well as possible.”

This article originally appeared on MPNnow: Reinvention Brewing celebrates Wayne County's bicentennial with 1823 Ale

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