A year ain’t nothin’ but a number–except when it’s also a beer name. We sussed out the meaning behind the dates emblazoned on our six favorite year beers.
New Belgium 1554
The story of 1554 starts in 1997 (keep up here!) when a Fort Collins flood destroyed the brewery’s schwarzbier recipe. To find a new one, brewmaster Pete Bouckaert and researcher Phil Benstein trekked to Belgium, where they stumbled on a town charter dated 1554 containing a recipe for a Belgian-yeast black beer. After deciphering the text, converting obsolete measurements and cooking up test batches, the duo finally landed on this dry, chocolaty, 5.6% ale-lager hybrid.
Fort George 1811
In 1811, John Jacob Astor of John Jacob’s Pacific Fur Co. opened a trading post in what is now Astoria, Ore., establishing the first settlement west of the Rockies and establishing himself as America’s first multi-millionaire. The grassy, bitter Fort George 1811 Lager was originally canned as a bicentennial beer for the town.
Hijos de Rivera 1906 Reserva Especial
In 1906, Jose Maria Rivera opened a brewery in La Coruna, Spain. The avid entrepreneur had his hand in many businesses, but brewing became his most successful enterprise; today, Hijos de Rivera (translation: children of Rivera) is run by the family’s fourth generation, who make this bready Märzen.
Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse
During the Napoleonic wars (1803 to 1815), the Little Corporal invaded Berlin, where he tasted the exotic, sweet and effervescent Berliner weisse. It’s said that in 1809, he and his troops paused from warring to reflect on how the beverage reminded them of Champagne; thus, the Berliner weisse was nicknamed Champagne of the North.
Brouwerij Roman Cuvee 974 Ename Abbey Ale
Way back in 974 A.D., the Belgian village of Ename (now part of Oudenaarde) was formed; it’s where the Abbey Ename stood until it was destroyed during the French Revolution. Brouwerij Roman supported the construction of a museum alongside the ruins, and brews a series of beers that bear the Ename name, like this sweet Belgian dark strong ale.
Brasserie Du Bocq Saison 1858
Belgian Martin Belot started brewing on his farm in 1858, though back then he only made beer in the winter, when his farmworkers didn’t have much to do around the homestead. Fast-forward to today: Brasserie Du Bocq’s operated by the Belot family’s sixth generation, who work year-round, making beers like this classic spicy, lemony saison.