Batch 19 By: Sean Creevey
The newest addition to the Coors Brewing Company family is likely older than anyone reading this. Their new brew is a revival of a bygone era and representative of the tenacious character that is Coors. What they’ve come to call this brew is Batch 19, and it has an accompanying story that will drive you to your first bottle and a taste that will keep you drinking. The “19” in Batch 19 refers to the year 1919, the last year before prohibition banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. The importance of this will become clear in a moment but here’s a hint: they call this brew a pre-prohibition style lager and a couple years ago they found some buried treasure. Before I can just come right out and talk about the beer there are a couple things that need to be known about Coors’ history first.
The brewery that we now call Coors was initially founded in 1873 by two German immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler; Coors bought out Schueler seven years later. Luckily for Coors there was already 40 years of established brewing out of Golden, Colorado that allowed them to stay float during the dark ages (of prohibition) and come out intact. Once prohibition ended Coors went on to start making the classic American lager for upwards of a century until 2004 there was a flood in one of the breweries in Golden. As a result of this flood many of the archives had to be moved so as to not get ruined forever. Some of these archives contained old log books from the pre-prohibition era (there’s a picture on Facebook) so naturally people were curious. Various members of the brew team looked at the logs and found some recipes and notes that intrigued them. There was one that stood out and was in production for only about three years before prohibition shut down their operation. Now you may be asking yourself, “if they’ve had this recipe all along why wait until now to start brewing it again?” the answer comes from the nature of the 1920’s and 30’s. During these two decades our nation went through some drastic changes socially, economically and politically. The Great War, the Great Depression, and prohibition led to a different type of desired beer. Once the taps started to flow again there was a high demand for what we would now call adjunct lagers, light and refreshing lagers that were the product of the technological boom in the industry. These types of beers became a status symbol in the post-prohibition days, forcing the abandonment of the pre-prohibition lager. However, the times, they are a-changin’ once again with a growing desire for the brews of old; this is where Batch 19 comes into play.
There’s one man who spear-headed the creation of Batch 19 and his name is Keith Villa. You might have heard of him, he’s a brewmaster with a quite a few ventures under his wing; his most noteworthy thus far would have to be Blue Moon. He’s one of a handful of people in the industry with a PhD and Batch 19 is proof of his skills. When Keith and the other members of the brew team were working on reverse engineering the recipe for this lager they ran into some difficulties. The biggest obstacle they faced was trying to find all the right ingredients and put them all together in the same fashion. Unfortunately, this is just about impossible, it called for native strains of barley, some type of unspecified hops and a yeast h 19strain that may very well not exist anymore. Thus, this is where Keith’s expertise came into play; he fiddled with the recipe for several years, comparing his brews to the notes from the past until he was finally satisfied. In 2009 a handful of cities were chosen for a test run of the small batches of Batch 19 with great success. Soon thereafter the brew began shipping nationwide; of course it’s a smaller scale than the rest of Coors’ operation but so is to be expected in order to maintain consistency.
About the brew itself
Batch 19 is a pre-prohibition American style lager that’s uniquely hopped for your drinking pleasure. To get geeky for a minute, the brew contains 5 different types of hops, one of which is Hursbrucker, a German noble hop that brings a floral/ spicy element to the mix. Another type of hop is Strisselspalt, a French hop with a spicy, black current taste that works to bring out the bready malt flavors. The yeast that’s used is the Coors proprietary strain that’s used, in one variety or another, for most of their brews. Put these together, add a little bit a magic and you get a lager with a 5.5% ABV, around 26 IBU’s and 10-12 SRM (deep gold/ light amber in color). It’s a very approachable beer and a welcomed change of pace from the norm, perfect for making new nostalgia. Keep an eye out for their unique tap handle, indicative of the methods of the old ways of tapping barrels of lager (or a federal agent smashing the last barrels of the then-illegal nectar, your pick). Some bars will even keep the speakeasy allure going by serving the brew in a “serving growler”, 64 ounces to be shared amongst your friends as they did once upon a time. Note: the “serving growler” is not your standard growler with a screw top you can take home, so don’t’ try and walk out with it or you might find yourself feeling like the drinkers of prohibition.
This is a beer for those seeking the original style, before breweries became corporations and beer became ubiquitous. Batch 19 is an embodiment of our nation’s tumultuous past; it’s progressive yet wholly grounded in the ideals that started the brewing industry. To get your hands on some of your own, you can locate the closest vendor by visiting Batch 19’s locator at www.batch19.com/locator