3 Beer Styles That Go Well With International Workers’ Day (May Day)
Hats off to the workers! You worked hard today, and everyday! These 3 beer styles with their labourer origins are the perfect way to celebrate your hard work and International Workers’ Day.
By Shira Kogut on May. 01, 2016
International Workers’ Day:
May 1 is International Workers’ Day also known as May Day or in some places Labour Day. This day is a celebration of the labourers and Spring. Nothing goes better with this day than these 3 Beer Styles:
1. A Farmhouse Ale for International Workers’
This Belgian Pale Ale family tends to be spicy, fruity and have earthy notes, but every farmer brewed it a little differently back in the day depending on what ingredients they grew on their farms. Farmhouse Ales were brewed in the farming communities of Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium and used to pay the farmhands for their work. I have a pretty high tolerance, but I often wondered how farm labourers could throw back a few of these to quench their thirst at lunch and then head back to work. Turns out the ABV‘s of these beers weren’t quite as high as their new trendy Farmhouse Ale cousins, which these days can be as high as 10% like those from Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Kisetsu which is their experimental Farmhouse Ale mixed with Sake yeast or Gillian which mixes in strawberries and honey with a 9.5% ABV. Farmhouse Ales were mostly brewed in the cold winter months and stored until the Spring and Summer. This general style of beer has a wide range of expressions and while it almost died out is now making a HUGE comeback.
2. May Day Pairs well with a Saison
While many people (including us here at Just Beer) use the terms Saison and Farmhouse Ale interchangeably, Saison is actually a sub-style from the Farmhouse Ale family. The distinction was in the time that they were served. Saison was brewed in the winter months like other Farmhouse Ales, but it was stored and served only in Summer. In the Summer, it was served to the seasonal summer workers (Saisonniers in French) that came to help out during the busy season on the farm. The general working conditions were that workers were entitled to no more than 5 litres of beer/day. Like the Farmhouse Ales, the Saisons have gone from an ABV of 3%-3.5% to 4.5%-6% in the 20th Century and now sit at 5%-9%. Originally Saisons did not share identifiable characteristics beyond the fact that they were refreshing summer ales made by farmers, but these days they tend to be highly carbonated, bottle-conditioned with a golden or reddish-amber colour. Some of the spices included are those which tend to be found in conventional Belgian brewing such as orange zest, coriander and ginger. Some nice, new Saisons have been coming out of Parallel 49 Brewing Company in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Like their Apricotopus with real apricots and an ABV of 6.3% or their House of The Rising Sun, a classic saison with an ABV of 4.5%.
3. A Porter for All That Labour
It is believed that the word Porter was first used in 18th Century, England and referred to all well-hopped, brown-malted, dark beers. The name came because of their popularity with the street and river porters. As the beer world grew distinct brewing styles and characteristics became apparent and other beer categories began to emerge. Stouts, out of Ireland for example. Originally Arthur Guinness was producing Porters, but then realized he could save money by brewing Stouts instead because he paid less taxes on unmalted and roasted barley. 2 other distinct Porter brewing styles also emerged from the traditional English: Baltic and American. Baltic Porter was a warm fermenting beer brewed in and around the Baltic States and other areas of Europe. American Porters tended toward the side of lager yeast rather than traditional top-fermenting yeasts and they also added adjuncts like maize, molasses and a slow-cooking corn syrup substance called Porterine. One company with a variety of all 3 Porter types is Cannery Brewing Co. from Penticton, BC, Canada.
Two unique Porters to enjoy on your Labour Day off:
- Big Rock Brewery‘s Bourbon Barrel Porter
Made in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- New Belgium Brewing‘s Cocoa Mole Spiced Chocolate Porter
Made in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
You worked hard and you deserve it! This International Workers’ Day, kick back with your favorite brewery’s style of Porter, Saison or Farmhouse and don’t forget to have an extra one for the workers!
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