I gotta bolt. I’m leaving the office today at 10 a.m. I don’t have anything terribly interesting happening feature-wise this morning, but before I go I wanted to toss out the idea of you and I heading to Colonial Williamsburg Oct. 18-21 to examine the origins and evolution of beer from antiquity to today. Fancy, right? We could dress up in non-corresponding historical garb and talk in old-timey dialects of our own making. I’m sure that’s encouraged. We’d definitely learn about the history of beer from Romans to colonial Virginia. That’s obvious. And, we’d probably become ultimate best all-time buds, sharing elaborate, high-five handshakes and inside jokes which all end with, “I am gruit.”
Don’t answer yet. Just consider it.
Because, brewers and beer scholars from around the world will convene at Colonial Williamsburg for the Ales Through the Ages 2018 conference, sharing their insights into hidden corners of beer’s rich history from antiquity to craft brewing’s resurgence. To the press release!
“Today beer is a recreational drink, but for thousands of years it was a critical source of nourishment that varied greatly between periods and places,” said Frank Clark, brewer and Colonial Williamsburg master of Historic Foodways. “We learn more about beer’s history every day, and this year’s Ales through the Ages conference promises new insights for anyone passionate about beer — whether brewing it, or just drinking it.”
Conference highlights include:
- A keynote presentation by Pete Brown, author of books including Hops and Glory: One Man’s Search for the Beer that Built the British Empire, which retraces the original journey of the first India pale ale, and Miracle Brew: Hops, Barley, Water, Yeast and the Nature of Beer.
- Brewer and journalist Stan Heironymus, author of For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops on the flowers’ historical impact on beer
- Marc Meltonville, food historian with England’s Historic Royal Palaces, discussing the history of “old ale” and beer in Great Britain.
- A discussion of beer in the Roman Empire with Travis Rupp, lecturer in classics, art history and anthropology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and innovation and wood cellar manager with Avery Brewing Co.
- A look at gruit, spice mixtures commonly used to flavor beer before wide adoption of hops, with Butch Helishorn of New Hampshire’s Earth Eagle Brewing
- A presentation by Clark and author Lee Graves on Molasses, Beer, Hops and the Enslaved: Brewing in 18th-century Virginia.
- A talk about the yeast Brettanomyces, or “British fungus,” common in varieties of Belgian beer, by Ron Pattinson, author of The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer: Rediscovered Recipes for Classic Brews Dating from 1800 to 1965.
- Primary conference sessions are offered 5-7 p.m. Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 20 and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg at 326 W. Francis St.
- Live demonstrations are open to conference guests 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 22 in the Historic Area. Andrea Stanley, owner/maltster with Valley Malt will prepare porter malt in the Governor’s Palace Kitchen while Clark and members of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways department brew 18th century-style porter next door in the Palace Scullery.
Registration is $375 per person and available by visiting colonialwilliamsburg.com/ales or by calling 1-800-603-0948 toll-free 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday eastern time. Shuttle service for an optional trip to Billsburg Brewery, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 21, is $15. Other optional tickets include conference participant guest admission for 6-7 p.m. receptions Oct. 19 and 20, $45 each; and discounted Historic Area admission for conference participants, $20.
Now, who wants to go? I just need a ride from Cleveland.