New New Albion Tapped Today

I like to give credit where credit’s due, and the original idea for this came from Rodger Davis, the head brewer at Triple Rock. But it was fortuitous that I ran into Don Barkley at the Falling Rock in Denver during GABF week last year. I hadn’t seen Don probably since CBC in Austin the year before when he accepted an award on behalf the famously reclusive Jack McAuliffe, his old boss at New Albion Brewery, the first modern craft brewery in America. But I knew he’d recently started brewing again at a new venture, Napa Smith Brewery in Napa. So I asked what he thought about recreating one of the original New Albion beers for SF Beer Week, as a way to tie the history of Bay Area beer together from its humble beginnings to its illustrious present. Don told me he had all the old brewing logs and would be more than pleased to brew it. “Which one do you want?” He asked with a wry smile. “Do you think anybody else would be interested in a keg of it if we made some, too?” Don wondered aloud. Well, needless to say the entire batch is sold and will be featured throughout SF Beer Week, a fitting tribute, I think. Once back in the Bay Area, Dave McLean took over working brewer to brewer to make it happen and today Don Barkley will tap the first kegs of the “Official Ale of SF Beer Week,” which will be called “Napa Smith’s Original Albion Ale.” It’s essentially the New Albion Pale Ale and only one batch was brewed, so when it’s gone, it’s gone.

But if you’re in the right place at the right time today, you can get a chance to try it and even meet legendary brewer Don Barkley in the process. Here’s from the press release we sent out:

To kick start SF Beer Week, Don Barkley has decided that he will be roaming San Francisco on Friday, tapping his beer for the first time at 5 different San Francisco locations, starting at the venerable Toronado in the Lower Haight, and ending up spending his happy hour in SOMA at the 21st Amendment. Don will be officially tapping his beer at every bar he visits, sharing some pints, a few stories, signing his awesome new Celebrator cover issue, and celebrating the start of SF Beer Week all day on his pub crawl around the city. Which starts with:

HIGH NOON first tapping at the Toronado!

The first drops of the Original Albion will be poured at the place where it all began for most of us, the Toronado. Don will be at the T from Noon to 1pm, catch him if you can. The Original Albion Ale will be available all weekend, if it even lasts that long!

Watch Your Speed! 1pm-1:45pm

Before leaving the Haight, Don and crew will be tapping the Original Albion at Magnolia Pub, where you can take a break from Strong Beer Month to grab a pint of a beer that hasn’t been brewed in well over 20 years!

We’re on a Mission! 2pm-2:45pm

Next stop on the Original Albion pub crawl: the Monk’s Kettle. Catch a mid afternoon beer with Don and the boys at the Kettle, one of the best new beer spots in the city, an instant classic if you will. They are kicking off SF Beer Week by running specials on local craft brews all week long!

Bottled Beer Heaven! 3pm-3:45pm

The City Beer Store, your best option for a take home version of the best beers in all the land, will be hosting Don’s beer on draft too, so stop by and wet your whistle while you decide which beers are going to fill up your fridge!

Lower De Boom! 4pm-5pm

The 21st Amendment, one of the sites of Strong Beer Month 2009, welcomes Don for the day’s final tapping, part of the pub’s legendary post-work day happy hour, where you can let the Original Albion wash away your sorrows, and prepare for what is sure to be an action-filled SF Beer Week for the next nine days in February.

Throughout the ten days of SF Beer Week, Napa Smith Original Albion Ale will be available at select locations around the Bay Area. Here’s a list of where you’ll be able to find it:

Alembic Bar
The Toronado
The Monk’s Kettle
City Beer Store
Chez Panisse
The Bistro
Magnolia Pub
Hopmonk Tavern
Rogue Ale House
Ben & Nick’s Bar & Grill
Cato’s Ale House
21st Amendment Pub
Jupiter Brew Co
Billco’s in Napa
Bounty Hunter in Napa
Murphy’s Irish Pub in Sonoma
The Celebrator’s Best of the West Beer Fest (on Sunday February 15)

If you want to try to recreate this beer at home, Don has graciously shared the recipe for this sip of history:

Napa Smith Brewery’s ‘ORIGINAL ALBION ALE’

Don Barkley Master Brewer of Napa Smith Brewery and the original brewer for the New Albion Brewing Co., has brewed for SF Beer Week the original New Albion Pale Ale. “Using recipes from New Albion we have reproduced a great ‘straight forward’ pale ale that helped shape America’s brewing history”. Although this ale dims in the stark glare of today’s extreme beers, it holds high the unique character of true craft brewing. New Albion Brewery yeast was used for fermentation thanks to the generosity of the Mendocino Brewing Company, who still uses this yeast in their ales. Pale malt used at New Albion was sourced from San Francisco’s last producing Malt House (Bauer & Schweitzer) in this beer we used a blend of 50 % Great Western 2-row and 50% Gambrinus Pale Ale Malt. The Napa water was hardened with the addition of Gypsum to a level of 350PPM hardness. Hops used as in the New Albion recipe are Cluster for bittering and Cascade for aroma (This was the Cascades first introduction into the craft brewing industry).


Infusion mash 144 degrees F, 90 min.
Sparge at 170 degree F
Boil 90 min., Hops (1/3 cluster, 2/3 cascade)
1. at boil Cluster
2. 30 min Cascade
3. 60 min Cascade

O.G. 13.5 balling, Pitching Temp 60 F, using 0.75lb yeast slurry/bbl
Ferment at 68 F 6days
Secondary 60 F 8days
Final Gravity 1.6 balling
Bottle condition using cane sugar and yeast slurry for 1Million cells /mil

Style: American Craft Pale Ale, using New Albion Ale Yeast
First Available:. August 1977
Description: Medium body, Bright golden color, White dense foam head, Lightly hopped, Aroma is malty with some hop spiciness, full malt flavor accented with hop character, moderate bitterness, Clean, dry after taste with lasting richness. Fermentation and yeast character is clearly evident with this unfiltered Ale.

Alcohol: By volume 6.5%
Bitterness: 31 BU
Color: 18
CO2: 2.5 Vol.
OG: 13.5 Balling
FG: 1.6 Balling



  1. The Professor says


    I don’t think it would “dim in the glare of today’s extreme” beers…If anything, it would probably stand out in the crowd of over-hopped sameness that much of the micro movement has become. But it is correct that New Albion exemplified true craft brewing in a significant way.

    New Albion was ahead of it’s time and it came and went relatively quickly. As a result of that I had the pleasure of tasting the original New Albion only once, all those years ago. How refreshing it would be if more “new” beers took a step towards achieving real balance for flavors. It’s ironic to me…for years the bulk of beers sold commercially were (with a few notable exceptions) lightly hopped adjunct heavy brews…boring sameness. Interestingly enough much so called “craft” beer seems to have now gone to the other extreme…and as a result, becomes just as boring.
    To me (and other craft beer lovers with whom I’ve spoken) many of the extreme beers demonstrate precious little craft in the making. And the ones that seem well made suffer from a lack of bulk aging before bottling (tying up the tank space for 6 to 12 months is an expensive proposition).

    There is certainly a market for very hoppy beers and there are a few well made ones (even back in 1969, one of my favorite commercial beers clocked in at 70+IBUs). But these days, it seems many beers are going “extreme” just for the sake of it.
    Makes me wonder what multitude of brewing sins the less skilled and less experienced micro brewers are hiding behind all that hop bitterness that obliterates every other flavor component of the brew!

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