Stephen Perazone had an idea. A docent at Portland’s historic Tate House, he suggested at a recent meeting of the museum’s education committee that they offer a lecture on brewing practices in Colonial New England along with a beer tasting.
“Everyone immediately said, ‘That’s a great idea — let’s do that,’ ” Perazone said.
And thus, Brews with Tate House Museum and Mast Landing Brewing was born. Saturday’s event features a tour and lecture on Colonial brewing at the Tate House, followed by a reading from “Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day” by author Lauren Clark, along with a beer tasting at Mast Landing Brewing Co.
Let’s play “two truths and a lie” about brewing in Colonial New England.
1. Plymouth Rock was settled, not for its ideal locale, but because The Mayflower was running low on beer and the Pilgrims needed to go ashore to brew more.
2. Children in early New England drank beer because the water was often poisonous.
3. Mary Tate, wife of Captain George Tate, most likely brewed beer for her family at the Tate House as part of her wifely duties.
Which one’s the lie? Actually, they’re all true. It’s engrossing historical insights like these that make Brews with Tate House the perfect event for lovers of history and beer alike.
In a recent interview with Perazone and fellow Tate House docent Bill Gousse, it became clear that this event is a deep dive into Colonial brewing history and not a gimmick to lure people into the museum with beer.
The night begins at the Tate House where Perazone and Gousse, along with fellow docent Peg Puza, will offer a beer-centric tour, in period costumes no less, of the historic house built in 1755.
“The tour starts on the first floor in the kitchen, where we’ll discuss how Mary Tate would have brewed beer. We’ll then move up to the second floor to a room that would have looked like a Colonial tavern,” Perazone explained.
“Back in the 1750s, there weren’t many taverns, so pretty much everyone had to brew their own beer. It was a common event that every couple of weeks they would brew,” Gousse added.
From our conversation I gathered two things: Both docents have carefully researched beer culture of the 1750s, and they both love beer. During our discussion, Perazone and Gousse peppered me with facts about the era’s brewing techniques, ingredients and tavern life.
Following the tour and lecture at the Tate House, patrons will make the 3.5-mile trek to Mast Landing Brewing in Westbrook. When I asked how they chose Mast Landing, Gousse explained that the name of the brewery has a connection to the Tate House patriarch, Captain George Tate.
Tate was a senior mast agent for the British Royal Navy. His job was to find white pines in Maine that England’s navy could use as masts for their then-world-dominating naval fleet. Tate hired local scouts to search out old-growth pines that would then be marked with a broad arrow emblem. These King’s Pines, as they were known, were felled and brought to a water source where they floated to the ocean for export to England.
“The location on a river where these pine trees were placed into the water was known as a mast landing,” Gousse explained.
The synchronicity between the nearby brewery and the historic museum runs deeper than beer.
“Breweries in early New England were so much more than a spot to grab a beer. They truly were the centers of community in their day. Here at Mast Landing, we are trying to replicate that feel. We want to be a pillar within our community,” said Ian Dorsey, co-founder of Mast Landing.
Expect the subsequent lecture at the brewery from Lauren Clark to be just as historically enthralling as she reads from “Crafty Bastards.” This book is a must-read for beer geeks who love history. Its historical tales are fascinating and extensively researched with heaps of primary sources, and her prose style is as crisp and inviting as Mast Landing’s Tell Tale Pale Ale.
WHO: Lectures by Tate House docents, a reading and lecture from Lauren Clark, author of “Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day,” and a tour and tasting at Mast Landing
WHERE: Tate House, 1267 Westbrook St., Portland, and Mast Landing Brewing, 920 Main St., Westbrook
WHEN: 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday
TICKETS: $35 for Tate House tour, lecture, beer tasting and Tate House beer mug (limit 30 people), $25 for Lauren Clark lecture and tasting only (starts at 4:30 p.m.)
MORE INFO: tatehouse.org/colonial-brews
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Third annual Funky Fest on the Farm
1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, 21 Ledgewood Lane, Lyman. $35 per ticket. funkyfest2017.brownpapertickets.com
Funky Bow Brewery hosts the third annual brewfest on its farm in Lyman. The event features beer from 12 local breweries, live music and plenty of food, including wood-fired pizza. Funky Fest also features the Funky Bow Trail Hop, a 5K run through the woods in the morning. There’s no better way to earn your beer than to work up a sweat with a trail run. Unlike most brewfests, this shindig on the farm is dog- and kid-friendly.
Allagash Brewing Presents: Ballet in the Brewhouse
5 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 50 Industrial Way, Portland. $20 per ticket. allagash.com/event/ballet-in-the-brewhouse-2
The trend of breweries hosting outside-the-box events in their brewhouses is a great aspect of our modern brewing culture. Allagash Brewing takes this concept to a more sophisticated level with Sunday’s Ballet in the Brewhouse as the Portland Ballet presents shows from its upcoming season. The juxtaposition of the industrial brewing space with the graceful choreography of the Portland Ballet dancers is sure to dazzle. Allagash beers will be available for purchase at the event.