Up against 43 other entries in the Scotch Ale category, Bear Republic’s brew team took home a bronze medal for Heritage Ale.
Bear Republic was one of 13 Northern California breweries to win a medal, and one of 3 in Sonoma County. Locally, Third Street Aleworks took home two medals and Russian River Brewing Company took home one medal. These 3 breweries solidfy the strength of brewers in wine country and continually put Sonoma County on the map.
About Heritage Ale
Description: Heritage is Bear Republic’s Scottish Wee Heavy. The bulk of the grain bill is made up of Golden Promise malt from the UK, backed up by a blend of specialty English caramel malts. Fermented with our house strain of Scottish yeast at cool temperatures to extract a clean, yet fruity ester profile. Lightly hopped with East Kent Golding hops, this big and malty ale is true to the Norgrove Family’s Scottish Heritage, the “North Grove” of Sonoma County.
Pairing Suggestions: Smoked meats, roasted vegetables, savory desserts, beef & pork dishes, blue cheese
Availability: Specialty kegs
ABV: 7.0% – IBUs: 17 – Scottish Wee Heavy
The 2013 Great American Beer Festival® winners were selected by an international panel of 201 beer experts from 11 countries from a record number of 4,809 entries received from 745 breweries. “The Great American Beer Festival® is the premier beer competition for the American beer industry,” says Nancy Johnson, Festival Director. The 2013 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition awarded 252 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States, including GABF Pro-Am medals. Presented by the Brewers Association, GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence.
The Back Story, the Story Behind the Beer
The Norgrove family are fourth and fifth generation Sonoma County residents, whose first and second generation family owned property in Sonoma proper. After many struggles the third generation sold that property in what is now known as Glen Ellen. It became the goal of the fourth and fifth generation to maintain a sense of pride as Sonoma County locals. We are continually working towards this goal with the founding of our brewpub in Healdsburg, CA and our production facility in Cloverdale, CA. Bear Republic’s recipes and their final formulations were developed over a period of several years. Originally starting with wonderful homebrewing sessions and the lessons learned from trial and error, we established the solid foundation for each recipe’s commercial equivalents. It’s been the Norgrove goal to continually develop new recipes using our time tested methods.
We first saw the name Heritage on a trip to the UK. We originally thought of Heritage as the name for our brewing company, however, there was already a Heritage Brewing Company established in the UK. When the Heritage brand went out of business, our Brewmaster Richard “Ricardo” Norgrove decided that our Scotch Ale would now be called Heritage Ale™. When he was developing the original homebrew recipes for BRBC, he kept going back to Scottish-style beers because of their desirable flavors. “As a homebrewer, I took the first few Scottish recipes and developed several of our core brands. Red Rocket Ale®, Apex™ and later Racer 5 IPA®. Heritage is our foundation beer,” states Norgrove.
It’s been on Ricardo’s bucket list as a brewer to win a GABF medal in the Scotch Ale category. Over the years, we’ve won 19 different medals in multiple categories from the GABF. Those categories range from lagers to ales to hoppy beers. Norgrove adds, “English-style brewing practices are the base of my passion. To have a Scottish recipe that won for us at GABF is amazing and a fulfilment of a family goal!”
Over the last 15 years, the Heritage Ale recipe has been an ongoing quest to define the Scottish style. Tami and Ricardo Norgrove took several pilgrimages to Scotland and the Traquair House Brewery, which defines the Scotch Ale style. As guests, they stayed at the inn associated with the Traquair House Brewery. From these travels to Scotland, they visited family ancestral lands in Douglas County and learned of the amazing courage of the Black Douglas from the North Grove. The Norgroves brought home specific ingredients from Scotland in an effort to understand and re-create the Heritage style you can drink today. This quest has had many turns, many recipe tweaks and many heartfelt discussions with brewers who exemplify the style and have won previous medals.
All of that research-visiting England and Scotland and trying to understand their brewing process-led us full circle. Norgrove continues, “My wife’s favorite beer has always been Heritage, because that was the base for Red Rocket Ale. The only request that she gave me when our daughter was to be born was to have our Scottish ale “Heritage” at the birth at the hospital. After much debate about a strong name for our first child, Dad wanted to call her Caravienne, but Tami was not keen on naming her after a grain or ingredient.
Tami didn’t think Caravienne was a strong enough name for a Norgrove, so we went with Ryleigh Athena Norgrove.” Dad nicknamed her Rye, winning a small victory. If you know BRBC beers, Rye is a key ingredient for one of our most popular beers and is a base for our future distilling projects.
Year after year we have continued the quest to win a medal win for Heritage Ale™, to no avail. After many recipe changes along with modifications to the brewhouse to replicate the breweries seen on trips to Scotland, we went back to the original formulation that was brewed when Ryleigh was born. Tami concluded, “Why are you chasing it? Go back to the original formulation from Rye’s birth.” After much lamenting, we did and finally won the medal. Tami was right all along. Mom is always right.
If you were to think about what Bear Republic® could represent to California and to Sonoma County, and you think about American heritage, you have to ask yourself, what’s the definition of a true American? America is truly the melting pot. The Norgrove family name is Scotch-Irish, but our family makeup is Scottish, Nicaraguan-Latin American, Greek, German and Native American. Bear Republic fosters this family mindset by creating beers that we believe are representative of our heritage and truly defining what a California brewery should be.
What is our heritage, you ask? “We are proud to call ourselves California Americans.” A beer like this is establishing for us what Bear Republic’s heritage is. It’s a heritage of quality, a heritage of being true to craft beer, and a heritage of family. A family whose American history dates back to the Civil War, with a Richard Norgrove buried at the Presidio, who served in the Civil War. A family whose military legacy extends to all branches of the service from Grandpa who served in World War II with the Flying Tigers to Dad serving in Vietnam to the sons who served in the army and local fire services. Our personal goal was to create beers within the industry that could become our family’s legacy, and Heritage Ale™ is one of those that does just that and if you research our other medal winners, you’ll see that the back story continues on.
This truly is a family business, with family members working in our brewpub and on our brew staff.
About Bear Republic Brewing Company
Bear Republic® develops hand-crafted ales and lagers brewed and aged using the traditional “art” of the masters. All ingredients are hand selected for each batch. Bear Republic works hard to foster a sense of loyalty and tradition from eras gone by.