Molson’s 1908 Historic Pale Ale Shows a Crafty Evolution
It’s a rare day I bother to review a beer made by one of the Macro-Domestic mega-corps. I am universally uninterested in their golden lager styles and have been consistently disappointed with their beers that attempt to emulate craft styles. But, like all people too entrenched in an ideology, I was destined to be surprised, and this was achieved by the John H.R. Molson & Bros 1908 Historic Pale Ale.
My interest in this beer stemmed from a Twitter convo with beer guru Robin LeBlanc who said:
The Bullshit Purity War summed up. Shocker: everyone can adapt. https://t.co/Gr6k2vpXGE
— Robin LeBlanc (@TheThirstyWench) February 23, 2016
The purity war she refers to is that of beer nerds who are committed to hating anything produced by a Macro brewery regardless of quality. While I’m not sure I fall into that category 100% (one of my favourite lagers is from Creemore Springs), I am certainly guilty of the occasional chest-beating, mouth-frothing rant against the big breweries. So, in light of this bias, I was determined to keep an open mind for the 1908 Historic Pale Ale.
This limited-release beer comes from a 108 year old recipe that Molson-Coors tried to replicate as authentically as possible, even using 100 year-old fermentation techniques. It was dug out of their archives along with a number of other documents which hopefully also yield some interesting beers. While at first I assumed the 1908 Historic Pale Ale was destined to be a gimmick, I’m happy to say it’s not — it actually shows an evolution of brewing and refinement from Molson-Coors.
John H.R. Molson & Bros 1908 Historic Pale Ale Tasting Notes
I never thought I’d be using the words “rich” and “flavourful” to describe a Molson product (OK last dig at them I promise), but I’m happy to amend that for the 1908 Historic Pale Ale. It pours a deep amber in the class with a fizzy, vibrant head — perhaps a product of it’s old-school fermentation. On the nose it has a warm breadiness under which there’s a bright citrus with a touch of floral perfume. Quite honestly, it smells good.
The taste is pretty good too. I’d like to preface this tasting review by saying — all things considered — it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill American-style pale ale. The 1908 Historic Pale Ale doesn’t exactly push too many boundaries in terms of its style. However, with a rich caramel malt body, a touch of herbs and earthiness, floral hop tones, and a refreshing bitterness, this beer still managed to impress me.