The latest entry in Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s series of 30th-anniversary beers has California roots and San Antonio highlights, but there’s nothing blond about Jack & Ken’s Ale.
Jack McAuliffe has been out of the brewing business for nearly three decades, but he is somewhat of a legend in the craft-beer world. The engineer opened what is considered the first American microbrewery in Sonoma, California, in 1976.
Many craft brewers and brewery owners can trace their roots back to McAuliffe’s New Albion Brewery, which closed in 1982 when the beer pioneer went back to being an engineer. He traveled with his job and eventually landed in San Antonio. Ken Grossman, a co-founder of Sierra Nevada and one of the most respected people in brewing in this country, was just such an acolyte and frequented New Albion before opening his own improvised brewery in Chico, California.
Last week, Grossman toasted McAuliffe and his inspiration at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in San Antonio at an introduction of Jack & Ken’s Ale.
It was a memory exercise for both men when Grossman came to San Antonio earlier this year to recreate a beer that neither had tasted in decades. Grossman said he remembered having a very strong porter at the New Albion summer-solstice parties, but McAuliffe remembered it more as a barleywine. Grossman dubbed their result a black barleywine ale with all Cascade hops. Most barleywines are big in alcohol and amber in color. Jack & Ken’s takes the style a step further with some porter-like characteristics that stop short of imperial stout.
Each collaborator in the 30th-
anniversary series is donating a portion of the proceeds from the brew to a favorite cause. McAuliffe selected San Antonio’s Texas Public Radio for the happy returns. Availability is day-to-day because of limited quantities, but best bets are the Flying Saucer and Tap Exchange for draft. For bottles try Central Market, H-E-B Alon on Northwest Military Highway, Whole Foods, Gabriel’s warehouse store on Loop 1604, or Specs on I-35.
Ranger Creek dinner changed
The Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling beer and cuisine presentation at Pavil mentioned in last week’s Bottle & Tap has been moved to the first Tuesday in November.
Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current and is the co-author of the book Beer Across Texas: A Guide to the Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State (Maverick Publishing). He can be reached at email@example.com.