Hops from the Smithsonian's Victory Garden Were Harvested for This Special Homebrew
The Smithsonian includes a lot of museums: nearly a dozen on the National Mall alone (as you remember from that super cool family vacation you went on when you were 13 years old). As a result, you're excused for not knowing all the wonderful things that can be found at every stop. For instance, the National Museum of American History has its Victory Garden. Among the many edible items grown there are Cascade hops, and this year, possibly the world's most famous homebrewer used those hops to make a Smithsonian porter.
Charlie Papazian — the man who wrote the book on homebrewing, pretty much literally alongside founding the American Homebrewer Association and the Great American Beer Festival, as well as serving as the president of the Brewers Association — saw the Cascade hops himself when he was visiting the museum earlier this year, and apparently suggested out loud, "It would be cool to brew with these," according to CraftBeer.com.
Needless to say, Papazian — who also announced his retirement this year — was deemed a worthy recipient, and this year's harvest from the five-year-old bines was sent his way. Then, in an effort to honor the museum's dedication to American history, Papazian selected to recreate a beer with plenty of historical context. In 1982, the Falstaff Brewery submitted "Narragansett Porter" to the very first Great American Beer Festival that was dry-hopped with none other than Cascade hops. Papazian said that, all these years later, he still distinctly remembers that brew. "[It was] a dark, medium-bodied porter with a balanced, roasted, toasted dark malt flavor. The lightness of corn and a medium malt body accented the flavor and aroma experience of dry-hopped Cascade perfectly," he told CraftBeer.com. "It struck me that this may have been the first modern-day American brewer beer that was dry hopped."
In an era where dry-hopping and double dry-hopping ("DDH" as the cool kids say) is all the rage, such an early example of a dry-hopped beer is clearly significant. And though you can't go and pick your hops at the Smithsonian (well, you can try, but I wouldn't advise it), you can try to recreate this beer yourself: Papazian posted his recipe, along with plenty of history about the beer, on the American Homebrewers Association website. I'm not saying brewing this beer yourself will make up for that horrible family vacation you took to Washington D.C., but it's almost guaranteed to be more enjoyable.