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National Park Series: Yosemite

We are excited to announce the launch of our new beer, Yosemite. This is the first release in a year-long series—it is a project inspired by the natural and diverse beauty of America’s National Parks. As many of you will know, our one-time colony across the pond has been a great influence on us and the many craft breweries that have come before us.

At Newtown Park Brewing Co., we are quite literally standing on the shoulders of giants. With our heads held high, we cannot help but look towards the pacific ocean and what lies beyond. In total, we have four special releases planned for the year. First up is a beer inspired by the mother of all National Parks, Yosemite. 🏔

Yosemite National Park

America is world-renowned for its national parks. Millions upon millions of tourists visit these national treasures every year. Some for solitude or spiritual reflection, others for drone shots or IG posts. Whatever each individual's motivation for such a pilgrimage, it all began in Yosemite.

In 1864, it was a Canadian, Galen Clark, who successfully lobbied Abraham Lincoln to demarcate and protect what is now known as Yosemite National Park. The nearly 1,200 square miles (3,074 km2) set forth a stunning example and a template that would soon be followed all across America. Today there are 63 national parks spread across the US.

The famous U-shaped valley has been shaped over time through granite erosion. Alpine glaciers meticulously sculpted the national park long before the dawn of mankind. Most of us will be familiar with the ethereal magnificence of rock formations like El Capitan or Half Dome. Documentaries like Free Solo and The Dawn Wall have helped to more deeply etch these geological legends into the global consciousness.

And perhaps worst of all, tech bros, fanboys, and Apple users alike can’t help but think of one thing: OS X–Don’t worry, our next release won’t be called Windows 10 or Linux!

All unpaid marketing aside, in many ways, Yosemite has a lot in common with modern craft beer. The park was the first of its kind, leading a new wave. And it was shaped over time by an unseen force.

Since we’ve got beer on the brain anyway, one can only wonder, what beer is the Yosemite of craft brewing?

History of Anchor Brewing

It’s safe to say that after 13 years of prohibition and the effects of wartime rationing, American brewing was on a downward spiral. In the 1960s, what had once been 4,000 breweries strong was now only 70. With a massive palate shift to barley-hopped and industrial-produced lagers, it seems all hope was lost for those wanting more.

When Frederick Louis “Fritz” Maytag III purchased the Anchor Brewing Company he was acquiring an unknown relic of history. He was also buying a brewery in disrepair with little to no brand equity. At the time of purchase in 1965, the company had developed an ill reputation for producing sour, bad beer.

Not one to rest on his Laurels, Fritz wanted to turn things around and learned as much as he could about brewing. He invested in equipment improvements. Perhaps, more importantly, he levelled up the cleaning and sanitation processes at the brewery–we are the janitors of beer after all!

After a few a small production of draught, the brewery would release its first bottles in 1971.

Anchor Steam

At the time of its release, Anchor Steam was the only commercially produced beer of its kind. It was inspired by a defunct and truly American style that was known as “steam beer” at the time. To find the origin of steam beer we must turn back the clock to the end of the mid-19th century.

During the 1860s, breweries like Carson Brewing produced a form of steam beer during the Gold Rush in Nevada. Going against convention, this beer was fermented with lager yeast but fermented at much warmer temperatures. This was due to a lack of refrigeration at the time and would have been seen as a way of corner-cutting to produce cheap beer.

What is Steam Beer?

Why the beer itself was called “steam beer” is of much debate by historians. It may be due to the need to de-gas or let the beer “blow off steam” from the increased carbon dioxide production at higher temperatures. Or it may be rooted in traditional German dampfbier which translates as “steam beer”.

Historians at Anchor Brewing tell a different story. It goes that due to a lack of ice or true refrigeration, San Francisco brewers would ferment beer on their rooftops. They would let the ocean breeze cool off the warm beer overnight producing a fog of steam that would shroud the brewery. We prefer that backstory–don’t worry, we won’t be cooling beer outdoors…yet.

In the 1970s, Fritz had begun using a special lager yeast that fermented well at ale temperatures. This beer featured characteristics of both lager and ales produced at the time. Because it was such an outlier, Anchor Steam was sold in 4-packs in an attempt to compete on price with ubiquitous light lager 6-packs of the day.

With a richer flavour, the beer gradually became a local favourite. Combined with the US legalisation of homebrewing in 1978, the incubation period had begun.

Breaking Down the Barrier

Anchor Steam is truly one of the first craft beers that rocked our world! Well before we were sampling homebrews in Cornwall (that would become the prototypes of what is now Verdant Brewing Co.), we were fascinated with this effervescent, amber liquid gold.

It’s only fitting that early American trailblazers like Jack McAuliffe of the oft-forgotten New Albion Brewing and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada cite Anchor as the ones that smashed down the gate. From there the rest is history. Nearly 5 decades later, we are enjoying the cascading butterfly effect that began with Anchor Steam.

Yosemite, Cali Common 4.7%

Anchor Brewing trademarked the term Steam® Beer well over a decade ago. As such, the Beer Judge Certification Programmed (BJCP) has named the Anchor Steam-inspired beer style, California Common beer. Compared to IPA or Stout, we think that is a mouthful and much prefer Cali Common.

Yosemite is our Cali Common for the modern drinker. When creating this beer, our Head Brewer Virginia drew her inspiration from the legendary Anchor Steam. She decided to ferment the beer with our workhorse lager yeast at an ale temperature range of 16C to 18C. Like its founding father, Yosemite is mashed with a combination of pale and crystal malts giving it a rich amber colour.

More importantly, these complex malts bring a subtle balance of toast and caramel as the beer hits the palate. Classic and respectful, Northern Brewer hops bring a woody spiciness to the aroma of the beer and give way to deliciously satisfying and clean bitterness. Never too sweet, and never too bitter, this beer pulls you in for another sip and you don’t resist.

Drinker beware, this beer has nostalgia written all over it. You may even get Doc Brown’d back to a different time. It’s as if you are sitting down with the gold miners of the 19th century, feeling hot with dirt on your face, but all is forgotten after that first sip. This is the gold you were looking for!

Buy Yosemite Cans Now

Gotta Catch em’ All

We have no future plans for implementing AR (augmented reality) for a Newton Park GO App. And let’s not give Macca any ideas! But for lack of a better term, you gotta catch ‘em all!

Each National Park beer launch will feature artwork from our American-based designer, Jake & Jojo. Included with each launch will be a limited release of stickers and other merch. Like the beers themselves, whey they are gone, they are GONE.

We hope you enjoyed this informative blog post (we should do it more often). Yosemite is just the beginning. Up next–we’re not going to tell you that easily! Rest assured there are bigger and better things on the way so stay tuned and watch this space.

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