Back in 1976, Jack McAuliffe, a former Navy man accustomed to the European-style beers he enjoyed oversees, set about launching his own little brewery. Given the brewing landscape of the day, one comprised solely of macro-breweries like Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Pabst and Coors, the idea was about as laughable as starting one's own car company.
McAuliffe named his Sonoma County upstart New Albion, the name Sir Francis Drake gave to Northern California. Given that he started one year before Boulder Beer, two years before Sierra Nevada and six before Boston Beer, it’s no wonder he is often credited as "the original craft brewer."
Other than a brief tribute last year by the Boston Beer Co. in the form of a 6,000-barrel run, New Albion Ale has largely been relegated to the history pages. That will change starting Cleveland Beer Week, when Renée DeLuca, daughter of McAuliffe and President of the re-launched New Albion Brewing Co., teams up with Platform Beer to revive the brand.
“I get messages across the New Albion social media pages and our website from people who are hoping to see this delicious, drinkable ale at their local tap house again,” DeLuca says of the venture. <
Platform brewer Shaun Yasaki will have the brew ready to drink by 6:00 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, the date of the re-launch event at Platform.
“To me [New Albion] is sort of like a time machine in a bottle,” says Platform owner Paul Benner. “This is what craft beer was like long before decades of experimentation, collaboration and growth.”
This is only the beginning, promises DeLuca.
“We’re starting out small – like Jack did back in the early days of New Albion in Sonoma, California,” she says. “We hope to grow, and with the support of the team at Platform Beer here in Cleveland, we feel the brand is sustainable and we look forward to continuing production.”
Show up to Platform on October 17 and you’ll meet the founder of the craft beer movement himself, Jack McAuliffe.
“My father will be coming to spend some time with me over Cleveland Beer Week, and we are excited to have him at our re-launch,” adds DeLuca. “Jack loves to tell the story of the early days of craft beer, and if you’d like to meet him, be sure to stop in and enjoy the original beer that started it all. Jack tells a good story, especially over a good beer.”