Pure Bliss Scottish Maple Porter
5.8% ABV, 43 IBU
Style: Colonial-Style Porter
Malts: Chocolate Malt, Crystal Dark, Finest Golden Promise, Torrified Wheat, Peat Smoked Malt
Yeast: Scotch Ale (INIS-302)
Additional: Molasses, Maple Syrup, Oak Chips
Brewer: Craig Hewitt
This rustic and roasted porter featured hints of chocolate, molasses, maple syrup, and wood before finishing dry.
In the words of the brewer:
“In celebration of my family’s Scottish heritage, I crafted Pure Bliss in honor of the Bliss family – direct descendants of the original Mayflower settlers who first set foot at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Like many immigrants, the Bliss family fled England because of religious persecution. Unfortunately, as Baptists in Puritan Massachusetts, they were still victimized by prejudice and fear. Led by the family patriarch, John Bliss, the family left Massachusetts after the Puritans tried and condemned John’s cousin Mary for witchcraft. John led the family exodus to Rhode Island, a colony founded on the basis of religious tolerance.
Once there, John Bliss rose to prominence. He ascended to the rank of Major in the Continental Army and eventually married Damaras Arnold, the daughter of the governor of Rhode Island. A deeply spiritual man, John raised a family and, eventually, his son William became a well-respected reverend as he pursued what was called “soul freedom,” a precursor to what would eventually be our First Amendment right to freedom of religion. But the peace they found was not meant to last. On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence and the Revolutionary War broke out. The first few months of the war were devastating for the colonists and the Bliss family home was soon taken and occupied by British troops. William Bliss was allowed to remain on his land with his youngest children because of his “sacred calling” but his hatred of the British was well documented.
Our family found journal records which indicated the British were as arrogant as they were oppressive. British troops quartered in William’s very own home often mocked him, expressing how anxious they were to kill the American troops in battle. On one occasion, several British officers followed William on one of his hunting expeditions and were astonished by the Reverend’s superb marksmanship as he effortlessly shot birds from the sky. At that moment, William turned to the British officers and said, “You seem very anxious for the Americans to land upon the Island; now, when they come they will take you down as easy as I do these birds.”
Not only were the British taken back by his defiance, William’s words would become prophetic. Little did they know William’s eldest sons, John and William Jr., had already enlisted in the Continental Army and, just like their father and their grandfather, were quite handy with a gun. William and John were recruited by “Knowlton’s Rangers,” considered America’s first ever special forces unit. Their prowess in battle was credited for giving General George Washington his first victory. On September 16th, 1776, Knowlton’s Rangers engaged British troops at the Battle of Harlem Heights in an effort to lead them into a trap. Washington’s plan was to bait the British into thinking they were retreating so the rest of his forces could flank them.
What happened next was completely unexpected. As the Rangers withdrew, the emboldened British troops began to play a fox-hunting song to humiliate the Rangers. Furious by this display, Knowlton’s Rangers immediately turned and attacked with a vengeance. Inspired by their courage, the rest of Washington’s forces joined in the battle and handed the British army their first loss of the war. Not only did this battle lift the Continental Army’s spirits, it dispelled the long held myth of British invincibility. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Both brothers survived the war and went on to have families in Pennsylvania where our two families—the Hewitts and Blisses—were united by marriage. On June 17th, 1825, the Bunker Hill Monument was dedicated. To commemorate the event, the last surviving veterans of the Revolutionary War were asked to be in attendance to honor their sacrifices. Among them was William Bliss.
As a fitting tribute to my brave colonial ancestors, I wanted Pure Bliss to be a true vintage-style porter, a favorite among the Founding Fathers and the American colonists. To be as authentic as possible, I selected only grains and hops that would have been available in 18th century America. However, to honor their Scottish lineage, I included Golden Promise and peat-smoked malt to the grain bill to lend a slight Scottish character to the beer. I then added generous portions of maple syrup and molasses, two ingredients directly inspired from family records. Sugar was a commodity my ancestors would have never had access to, but stories were passed down that the family celebrated every spring when the maple trees were ready to be tapped. After hearing these stories, I knew maple syrup was the key ingredient to make Pure Bliss complete.”