ERIN POTTIE – CAPE BRETON BUREAU – Published in The Chronicle Herald March 30, 2015
SYDNEY — Alexander Graham Bell’s recipe for a syrup has been brought back to life by a Cape Breton craft brewery.
Jeremy White, founder and alesmith with Big Spruce Brewing Co., said a new brew has been launched based on the famed inventor’s notes.
“It was something he referred to many times as ‘raspberry vinegar,’ and he actually gives a recipe for it,” White said Monday.
“It looks like what he was creating was either a sour cordial or a lacto-fermented cordial — or something like that — out of vinegar, fresh raspberries, lots of sugar and a little bit of water.”
Bell, who is best known for inventing the telephone, would have boiled and bottled the syrup, meant to be mixed into water.
White said although there’s no reference to alcohol in Bell’s notes, its creation isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
“There’s plenty of sugar there if he’d aged it on yeast — or something like that,” he said. “Something might have happened, alcoholic, but no one’s quite sure what additionally may have been done to it.”
Based on Bell’s concoction, Big Spruce has created a wheat ale that has been kettle-scoured, fermented and aged on fresh raspberries.
As with most of the Victoria County brewery’s batches, it bears a tongue-and-cheek name — the Silver Tart — a reference to Bell’s days as an aviation pioneer.
“It’s really quite a refreshing-style beverage; the sourness gives it a lot of nice thirst-quenching properties, so it’s going to be a good summer drink,” said White.
“When I tried it for the first time, I thought, boy, this needs to be served in champagne flutes.”
White said he was approached by staff at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck to create a beer for the museum’s upcoming musical drama, which begins July 3.
The Bells of Baddeck, by Port Morien native and soprano Lorna MacDonald, recounts how the Bell family came to Cape Breton and fell in love with its people, music and Gaelic charm.
White said this is the second time the brewery has been asked to recreate a historical beer, having already brewed a seasonal spruce beer for the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.
“I really think the craft beer world is ready for new and interesting stuff, and that’s what this beer is,” said White.
“It’s unique, and a beer that can differentiate us from the market.”
White said the museum is now seeking a liquor licence to serve the Silver Tart to patrons during intermissions at The Bells of Baddeck performance.
The ale will be offered for limited release at Big Spruce’s Nyanza tasting room and at a few drinking establishments in Halifax.
Published in The Chronicle Herald March 30, 2015