1554 — it's dark, delicious and unique. But what about its origins?
It all started in 1997, when a Colorado flood (not unlike those we experienced this summer) destroyed a Zwartbier-style recipe that our researcher, Phil Benstein, found in a centuries-old book. Not willing to give up on the unique brew, Benstein and New Belgium Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert resolved to re-discover the nearly-extinct suds. Their determination carried them all the way to a library in Brussels, where they found another, even older book. It was dated to 1554, and inside its pages was a recipe for the Zwartbier style they'd been seeking.
They couldn't walk away with the historical document, however, so they devised a plan. The story's edges fray at this point, but the two walked out of that library with photographic proof of the beer. That photo, full of old language and arbitrary, archaic measurements, birthed 1554 (named after the dating of the book it was found in.) It's been 14 years since the first New Belgium light dark ale was bottled, and it's still a fan favorite.
So, seeing as 1554 churned out an exceptional beer, it seemed a good idea to find out what else happened during 1554. Turns out the beer was the bright spot.
Queen Mary I loved 1554 (and hated rebellions)
Probably the biggest news story from 1554 was the Wyatt Rebellion in England. The rebels didn't like the fact that Queen Mary I was Catholic, or that she intended to wed Philip of Spain (also a Catholic.) Led by Thomas Wyatt, a land-owning rich dude, the rebellion sought to overthrow the Queen and instate more Protestant royalty. The rebellion didn't turn out that well for Wyatt; he, along with about 90 others, was executed (the world used to be very violent, it seems.)
Elsewhere in 1554, Sao Paulo, Brazil was founded, almost all of Eindhoven burned down and Hieronymous Bock, the founder of modern botany, died.
So, as far as the historical records indicate, the year 1554 was mostly awash in human ends and beer beginnings.
Now you have some knowledge to spit at your pals while sitting around drinking beers — just maybe leave out the 90 executions bit.
Cheers — Nic The Intern