Jack McAuliffe started New Albion Brewing Company in 1976 and unknowingly started the craft beer movement. His brewery has been recognized as the first microbrewery in the United States The brewery closed in 1983, but the legacy of New Albion has never been forgotten. Last year the flagship pale ale was brewed at Sam Adams and was served at the GABF and on Thursday of last week, January 10, 2013, the beer was released nationwide.
New Albion Ale is an American Pale Ale and as I understand it they tried to keep it as close as possible to the original recipe. I believe many will find the understated simplicity of the beer to be off-putting, especially the hop heads. What they will fail to realize is in 1976 mashing grain was a concept which was new ground for a homebrewer and ingredient availability had to be difficult for the small guy. I’m not even sure what hops were around in large quantities. I seem to recall a talk by Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada and he mentioned they used the bricks of hops which were powder and actually made for baking back in the early days. At that time in the US the vast majority of the beers were American Lagers so a pale ale would have been new grounds.
So to me this is a session beer since the hop level is subdued as is the malt presence. It is very pleasant to consume and I could down several and not be upset that I did so. I see some clone recipes at 5.5-6% ABV and if the alcohol is at that level it is well hidden. I’m not sure the recipe has any crystal malt at all and the yeast is certainly very clean for an ale.
I’ve read the proceeds go to Jack and this is a one time offering so when it is gone, it will not be brewed again. If you are a beer snob who thinks the only decent beer is a West Coast IPA then don’t bother, your palate is roached and you won’t appreciate this one anyhow. However if you want to taste a bit of history, see if you can get your hands on this one since this may be the only chance you will have and it has been 30 years since this one has seen a bottle.