New year, new beer. To start off 2016, we are proud to introduce a beer nearly 15 years in the making. Conceived and created by our own taproom manager and longtime friend of Ardent Lincoln Smith, our Rye Kolsch is not only a unique beer, but is a true craft brew from start to finish. It’s a story that has a familiar course: you have an interest in a certain style of beer, you dig deeper into its roots and history, and maybe you try a few recipes and experiment in home brewing. Then you perfect it. For Lincoln he has watched his beer grow from a modest 12 gallons in Ardent’s original Church Hill garage to 900 gallons being released in our taproom today.
The beginning was in 2001 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Lincoln was working as a brewer’s apprentice in a brewpub where tried his first kolsch made on-site. It was clean, crisp, drinkable. There was a slight tartness - an acidity that played with the high carbonation - and a balance of almost hidden breadiness. He loved it. He tried kolsches everywhere he could find them. Not long after, there was a surge of experimentation with rye in the brewing world. Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale was one of the first styles he tasted and, to him, the spiciness of the rye in a quaffable kolsch-style beer made perfect sense. It stuck with him.
Several years later, Lincoln enrolled in Siebel Institute in Chicago to hone his brewing skills. Under the guidance of his professor and mentor Ray Daniels, he returned home with a head full of ideas and wrote down a handful of beer recipes right away. His Rye Kolsch was the first one.
A recipe and a home brewer. What now? It was 2008 and Lincoln met a few guys who were running a little brewing co-op in the Church Hill neighborhood. They’d talk beer and knew he was passionate about brewing. They welcomed him to come by and check out the garage. He told his friend Tom Sullivan about his Rye Kolsch recipe. “Let’s brew it!” Tom said. They brewed it several times and got it just right. This was the early days of Ardent, and Lincoln’s beer.
Lincoln has been with us since our brewery’s opening days in 2014 and we always knew we’d brew his beer. We couldn’t be more thrilled to stretch it to this scale and pour it into the glasses of our supporters and guests. The whole team worked together to make this beer perfect, just like the one brewed years ago in our little co-op. This style heralds from Cologne, Germany and is brewed with ale yeast then is lagered in the fermenter for five or six weeks. Lincoln was the first to try the finished product out of the tank. A big smile and a thumbs up.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.