The Story Behind the Beer – Samuel Smith’s
Beer has a deep and rich history; it is produced by a perfect blend of agriculture, art, science, and magic. Beer is fun, interesting and often even compelling. Beer is a topic for great songs, a fulfilling hobby, a symbol of companionship, an icebreaker, a real treat to the senses… and sometimes, a beer is the high point of a day.
In addition to the pleasures of beer, there are also some great beer stories. Many are the tales of the homebrewer who was told by friends time & time again: “you should sell this!” There have been traditional regional beer styles that had almost disappeared (like oatmeal stout, reintroduced to the world by Samuel Smith’s in 1980). There are new styles, produced by brewers who push flavor boundaries. There are monks who brew beer, family recipes, wild yeast, and a trout who returned a gold ring to a princess. (If you don’t know the Orval story, click here.)
Produced from a huge range of ingredients and regional techniques, made with skill and inspiration, beer follows traditions and seasons. It pairs with classic or with innovative foods. Beer culture is fun, and we suggest that some knowledge about a brewer can enhance the enjoyment of drinking the beer they make.
Here is a little history and info about Samuel Smith’s, brewing beer in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, England, since 1758. Samuel Smith’s is a true pioneer in the craft brewing world, and their beers are highly respected and in wide distribution. So open up a Sam Smith’s and have a look; next time you are buying, selling or drinking one of these fine beers, possibly your enjoyment may be enhanced:
“Est. 1758”: Every drop of beer brewed at Samuel Smith’s is made with water from the brewery well. In fact, the brewery has the original well-digger’s receipt in their archives, and it is that 1758 receipt that establishes their founding date. (In 1758, George Washington was 26; Benjamin Franklin was 52, and Abraham Lincoln would not be born for another 51 years.)
“Yorkshire Squares”: Samuel Smith’s is the only brewery that ferments all ales in open-topped vessels made of stone, known locally as “Yorkshire Squares,” and they make the only stone-fermented beers available in the US. Yorkshire Squares are certainly not the easiest or cheapest fermentation vessel to use, but they provide the perfect environment for the Samuel Smith yeast strain due to their shape & configuration. And as brewers will confirm, happy yeast makes great-tasting beer. (We have on our website a detailed scholarly article by Mr. Peter Robinson, from the Brewery History Society Journal, regarding Yorkshire Squares; it’s about 1600 words and found right here.)
“Local delivery by horse-drawn wagon”: In the town of Tadcaster, local pubs are still supplied with Samuel Smith beer by a horse-drawn brewery wagon. The brewery has a wagon barn and a stable on the premises, where Shire draft horses are kept. Rather than a marketing ploy, local delivery by horse-drawn wagon is a firm commitment to tradition: years ago, when trucks and trains became available, they were clearly better for more distant beer deliveries and the brewery began to use them. But locally, horses worked well – they never stopped making sense . . . and with the current prices of fuel, they make even more sense!