(originally published in Bootleg Magazine – August 2007)
By Lector Bennett
It only takes a quick walk around our Port City to imagine how it played a huge role in the Revolutionary War. Imagine a scene; cannons exploding from the banks of our Cape Fear River, men shouting in fury, the smell of gun powder in the air. It makes me wonder… what beer would pair well with that? The answer is magnificent Flag Porter 1825.
Flag Porter is the closest beer on the U.S. market to resemble exactly what the British Loyalist drank and thirsted for. Read on and I’ll explain.
The Darwin Brewery’s Flag Porter is brewed from an old British recipe using yeast that was salvaged from a ship that sank in the English Channel in 1825. In 1988, several bottles were resurrected from their resting place, 60 feet deep in the cold waters of the Channel, found in their original containers with wood stoppers and wax seals intact. From there they were turned over to world renowned brewer and micro-biologist Dr. Keith Thomas. When he examined the beer he discovered something truly amazing.
A minute amount of the yeast was still alive!! After months of careful work he was able to re-grow the yeast into a large healthy crop which he began to used enthusiastically to brew a porter using a traditional British recipe. Wanting to truly bring back a taste from the past, Dr. Thomas turned down the modern conveniences of technology and strictly adhered to century old brewing techniques. None of the hops and barley in this ale has ever touched a drop of fertilizer or pesticides.
The Darwin Brewery which produces this beer is a marvel itself. Owned by three genius micro-biologists, the Brewery is now one of the most respected in the world. Their sister company Brewlabs Ltd. appears to be the world’s think-tank for everything having to do with micro-biology and beer. While still providing the yeast salvaged from the ship-wreck, they also train some of the greatest micro-breweries in the world and provide them with technical support, yeast, and product analysis.
Is this remarkably traditional British ale enough to stir the souls of the soldiers that fought here? Some think so. There has been recent paranormal activity reported surrounding these bottles of porter in our town. But that’s not a story for me to tell. Just ask Stan at the Haunted Pub Crawl and he will regale you in a tale valor, blood, and a soldier’s never-ending thirst for his last drop of alcohol.
Lector Bennett is a beer advocate, publican, and proud co-owner of Cape Fear Wine & Beer