We’ve got a new beer as part of our “Big Can Series and as great things often have small beginnings, and in a true Dickensian fashion Imperial Jack is no exception. This plot weaves around the friendship between a brewer and a pub regular, a homebrew collaboration, a kindly English grandfather and a final act that culminates in the winning of a gold medal. Our Big Can Series is available only on draft as kegs are big cans and are special beers released a few times each year.
Imperial Jack proves that some of the best stories are created over a pint of beer and a good meal. That’s just what happened over the course of numerous 21st Amendment Brewery lunch break visits by English homebrewer Richard Brewer-Hay who struck up a friendship with Shaun.
At his homebrew headquarters, Elizabeth Street Brewery, Richard had been brewing an ESB (Extra Special Bitter Ale) named “Grandpa Jack” in honor of his late grandfather, Jack Newbould. Eventually Richard and Shaun decided to collaborate on a stronger version of “Grandpa Jack” at the 21A brewery – and this time named it “Imperial Jack”. In 2010, we entered it in the international World Beer Cup competition- and it won a gold medal in the Other Strong Ale category.
Beer has been the foundation of friendship between Richard and Shaun, though the ties now run deeper than that. Shaun’s the kind of guy who answered every one of Richard’s homebrew questions, tossed around all kinds of crazy ideas and he ended up suggesting we take Richard’s recipe to his brewhouse. I can’t imagine a better way to get to know a person.
Imperial Jack is a deep amber ale with an equal abundance of malt and hops, an ABV of 8.5% and 45 IBUs. The beer was brewed with a very special English heirloom malt called Simpson’s Golden Promise. We also used English crystal and biscuit malts, Belgian honey malt and chocolate malts. The hops are Warrior, Northern Brewer and Styrian Goldings and we used a classic English ale yeast to round out the profile. Richard’s life-long goal is to open a brewpub outside his home, in his San Francisco Noe Valley neighborhood and we got that chance as the story continues.
The Story Continues…
Richard and Shaun went over to London, England the second week of April and brought the Imperial Jack recipe to the Brew Wharf and brewed it with Angelo Scarnera, the Brew Wharf Head Brewer and Phil Lowery. It was an amazing event for both of us, the chance to brew this beer in London. The idea of bringing the Imperial Jack recipe back to England where Richard’s grandfather spent his life was a real emotional journey for Richard, one that will be cherished for a life time.
Imperial Jack Release Event – Monday May 13th
Join us for the Imperial Jack release event at the 21st Amendment this Monday, May 13th from 6-9pm. We’ll be upstairs in the Brewers Loft with friends and fellow brewers enjoying Imperial Jack with tasty English food and great stories. Come raise a pint to Jack.
Thanks for your support,
Shaun and Nico