Blue Pants Brewery revives beer from 1500’s, wins prestigious award

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - In the 1500's in what would become Germany, a strong fire and a strong brew could be counted on to keep a crowd warm in body and spirit.

But in 1516, Bavarian authorities quenched that flame for many, with the passing of the Reinheitsgebot, the world's first food purity laws.

Many notable beers were outlawed, doomed to fade into history.

Until a very modern resurrection.

Weedy Weidenthal, Blue Pants Brewery Brewmaster, begins the tale, "When I was in Germany, one of our professors had introduced us to the historical beers that were brewed in Germany in the early 1500's."

That inspired Blue Pants Brewery to look for the future in the past.

But 500-year-old brews don't come with detailed recipes.

"They were ingredient lists really," Weidenthal explains, "They're kind of hard to follow, because they would say things like brown malt, black malt, and those aren't really words that we use today to describe the type of malts that we use."

They had to recreate every detail, right down to what kind of wood 16th-century brewers might have used for roasting.

Weidenthal continues, "We found that was beechwood, so we bought beechwood smoked malt for this beer.

The beer also has to age for a year in barrels that have barely changed since the days of the Reinheitsgebot.

The result? The Dortmunder Adambier.

Weidenthal muses, "It's probably the most complex beer that I can remember drinking or brewing."

Blue Pants Brewery Owner Michael Spratley chimes in, "Adambier is really unique, because it's kind of a smoky beer with some oak notes."

Weidanthal adds, "It does have a little bit of that cherry pie flavor. It's got a little bit of the phenols from the yeast to give it that clove flavor."

All that research and care earned them a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the category of "Historical Beer."

Spratley says, "I don't think a lot of people know how big of a deal it is really. It's kind of like a huge pat on the back for us . . . The last time a brewery in Alabama won a medal in the competition was five years ago in 2010."

The folks at Blue Pants tell us the Great American Beer Festival is the biggest annual beer competition in the country with thousands of total entries.

As for trying it yourself, they say they plan to prepare another batch.

Though it will take another year to age.

But what's a year, when we've waited centuries to recreate the recipe?

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