The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will celebrate its fourth annual Food History Weekend this weekend on November 1-3 under the theme "Regions Reimagined." A description for the event notes "Over the course of three days, [we] will explore the history and changing dynamics of regional food cultures in the United States. How have regional foodways expressed their place? Who and what shape regional identities? How are new ideas about regions reviving, shaping, and reshaping food in America?" They'll do this through a gala, roundtable discussions, and a festival on Saturday.
Oh and at a Last Call event on Saturday night from 6:30-9pm featuring four out of town breweries and their representatives, including:
- Shyla Sheppard from Bow and Arrow Brewing Company, Albuquerque, New Mexico (feat. "Dream Mesa" Golden Sour with Navajo Tea and "Denim Tux" Blue Corn Lager)
- Jon Renthrope from Cajun Fire Brewing Company, New Orleans, Louisiana (feat. Big Chief Crème Stout and Honey, brewed with clover honey)
- Deb Carey from New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wisconsin (feat. Spotted Cow and Wisconsin Belgian Red, brewed with Door County cherries)
- Marika Josephson from Scratch Brewing Company, Ava, Illinois (feat. Blackberry Lavender (sour ale brewed without hops) and Maple)
Stop. Rewind. Yes, that's right, New Glarus will be pouring here in D.C. All four of these breweries are tasty, but New Glarus crosses state lines on a notoriously rare basis, so this is a real treat.
Want tickets to the event? They're $45, and you can get them here.
We reached out to some beer experts locally and beyond to get their thoughts about this event and the breweries it will draw. Here's what they had to say:
Marika Josephson, Owner & Brewer, Scratch Brewing Company:
Everybody on the panel is on the cutting edge of diversity, regionality, and ownership in craft beer. We are each in our own way pushing the boundaries of creativity and entrepreneurialism in our respective corners of the United States. Scratch is a 300 bbl-a-year brewery that is making a conscientious effort to source as many ingredients as possible from its grounds, and from local farmers and producers, in an effort to support a small regional economy. Some of our batches are so small they won't leave our taproom, including the Sap series beer we're showcasing at Last Call. This is a great opportunity to find out what's going on at the fringe of craft beer and to taste the flavors of beer that are indigenous to other parts of the country.
Theresa McCulla, Ph.D. Historian of the American Brewing History Initiative:
I’m extremely excited to welcome these four brewers to the stage at the National Museum of American History. Their unique perspectives on region – whether in the sense of landscape, ingredients, distribution networks, history, heritage – resonate in the beers they will be pouring.
Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, Diversity Ambassador at the Brewers Association:
If you ask me, this is a can't miss panel for craft beer lovers! Authentic connections to their local and regional communities and the use of high quality, seasonal, and often locally and regionally sourced ingredients are hallmarks of independent craft brewers. This panel line-up not only represents a wealth of experience on the craft and business of brewing, it is also a wonderful opportunity to hear a diverse set of voices in the craft brewing community.
Stan Hieronymous, beer judge and author of Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer and For The Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops among other books:
Although Scratch Brewing has leaned on multiple historic brewing traditions in establishing what might be called "The Scratch Way" the resulting beers are really unlike any that have come before. They prove that beer can come from a place that belongs to all of us.
Jake Berg, DCBeer Editor:
Don't sleep on Scratch, out of southern Illinois. They make very good beers, with ingredients from their farm and foraged from the area. They brought an excellent IPA with Sumac to last year's Craft Brewers' Conference in DC and are a true farm brewery. If there's terroir in beer, you'll get it from both Scratch offerings as much as you will New Glarus' Belgian Red. We can all learn a lot from Marika.
People are rightly going to focus on New Glarus. It just doesn't happen outside Wisconsin. Spotted Cow is perfectly fine…Belgian Red is everything you want a fruited sour to be and more.
Kevin Blodger, Founder and Director of Brewing Operations at Union Craft Brewing:
I first met [Cajun Fire’s Jon Renthrope] earlier this year at Fresh Fest in Pittsburgh, where he wasn’t pouring beer due to Louisiana beer laws, but he had still come up to support the country’s first black beer fest. I’ve followed his brewery since first hearing about them a few years ago. Jon has a strong passion for beer and New Orleans, and I’m very excited to see what the company does with their planned build out in East New Orleans where they plan to have production space, tap room, kitchen facility and cultural museum.
Volker Stewart, Founding Partner at The Brewer's Art:
New Glarus was the OG of Holy Grail beers. You just did not see them unless you went to Wisconsin (or Illinois for a spell), and even then it was spotty (or spotted, ha?). When the GABF had its only East Coast version in 1997, New Glarus had the longest line, bar none. Ask me about the Baltimore GABF sometime.
Jeff Hancock, President/Head Brewer, DC Brau:
Deb Carey from New Glarus has a great, big personality. Just like the delicious Wisconsin Belgian Red she produces. Both should not be missed, sneak me a bottle please.
Good luck to the Smithsonian team for their action-packed weekend, and thanks for bringing in some tasty out-of-town offerings to enrich our beer scene!