Le Réservoir and Museum of Jewish Montreal Revive Two-Century-Old Beer

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MONTREAL, QCLe Réservoir brewpub and the Museum of Jewish Montreal have teamed up to recreate an historic beer from Quebec’s first Jewish-owned brewery.

Inspired by a blog post published last winter by Toronto-based lawyer and beer historian Gary Gillman, the Museum commissioned Le Réservoir to brew a beer that came as close as possible to a circa-1800 recipe from the M & E Hart Company, a brewery established in 1796 by Ezekiel Hart and his brothers, Moses and Benjamin.

Gillman discovered the recipe in the online archives of the Quebec government, and as described in a more recent series of blog posts – found here, here and here – a researcher from the Museum came across Gillman’s article, ultimately leading to the recreation of the beer.

Le Réservoir brewer Nathan McNutt took on the challenge of translating the old recipe into something that could be brewed today, and as Gillman describes in one of his blog posts (several excerpts below), the result – which has been dubbed L’Affaire Hart – was as follows:

The recreation by Reservoir brewpub is very authentic IMO. A single pale malt was used, called Frontenac, and one hop, both productions of Quebec’s soil as the original would have used. A first run off only was used to produce the beer – no sparging. 1.3 lbs hops per barrel (36 gallons) were used.

Nathan added the hops during the boil in two additions, which is very possibly what originally was done. It’s possible all hops were all added at the end of the boil, more to infuse the aroma than make the beer bitter, but perhaps not since the recipe states it is important to stir the boil to avoid the hops sticking. This implies the hops were added during an active boil.

The Reservoir’s beer is light amber, a touch hazy, 8.6% abv, I am told only lightly bitter. Net net, the recreation sounds like classic strong English mild ale of the 1700s-early 1800s; it sounds like something close to what the Harts brewed.

L’Affaire Hart made its debut last night with an event at the Museum of Jewish Montreal that included a talk by Gillman, followed by a tasting at Le Réservoir, where it will remain available while supplies last.

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