“Why, I could make anything anybody wanted—anything in the world, it didn't make any difference what; and if there wasn't any quick new-fangled way to make a thing, I could invent one—and do it as easy as rolling off a log...A man like that is a man that is full of fight—that goes without saying.”
-Mark Twain, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, 1889
Following the American Revolution and ratification of the Constitution, our new nation ventured forward into the unknown; no one was quite sure what would become of a culture who embraced the then-radical ideas of individualism, liberty and free markets in a world run by monarchies and mercantilism.
It was a rough go at the start: In the 1790’s, the United States was well behind the developed nations of western Europe, lacking industry, population and funding; aspects we had become reliant upon from England during our colonial days. As colonies, the majority of our economy was agrarian, centered around producing raw materials for the British Empire. America didn’t produce finished goods, didn’t invent new technologies, and lacked even the most basic of resources to participate in either.
But then, something happened.
Within the span of a generation, the United States suddenly emerged as a global economic powerhouse. We became leaders in the production of iron and steel, textiles, boots and shoes, paper, packaged foods, firearms, machinery, engines, tools and more. Our once-hostile frontier was quickly conquered by a series of roads, canals and railways.
Wild new inventions and innovations became a staple of American culture, as one European attendee at the Centennial Exhibition remarked, “the American invents as the Italian paints and the Greek sculpts. It is genius.”
By the 1840’s, we were exporting everything from small tools to steam locomotives back over to Europe. The US economy’s shift was so profound that in England, Parliament formed a special committee to investigate and report on what had become known around the world as the “American System.”
One historian even notes that although we were once “monarchical, hierarchy-ridden subjects on the margin of civilization, Americans had become, almost overnight, the most liberal, the most democratic, the most commercially minded, and the most modern people in the world."
So, what happened?
Modern historians and economists continue to debate this period of American history today since, in many other parts of history, large leaps by a nation or society can typically be attributed to a key event or innovation; but this is not the case in the United States following the Revolution. We had none of the ingredients deemed necessary to quickly and profoundly change the landscape of the global economy, yet we did so anyways.
“The contrast between the mechanical capabilities of [New England] craftsmen in 1800 and in 1850 is so striking that it would appear to demand an explanation.”
-Eugene S. Ferguson, “The Origin and Development of American Mechanical ‘Know-How’”, 1965
And the best explanation many have pointed to is a rather un-academic one: “Yankee Ingenuity.”
The term Yankee Ingenuity refers to the dogged determination of the citizenry to get things done, no matter the challenge. You could call it work-ethic, creativity, talent, imagination, genius or just plain stubbornness, and you wouldn’t be wrong; one could argue it’s a combination of all of the above. In essence, New Englanders know how to “get sh*t done.”
As such, projects thought to be impossible at the onset were worked tirelessly until complete, and then improved upon continuously by others: The Erie Canal, the great factories of New England, massive steam engines, expansive railroads, and thensome. Towns grew into cities rivaling those of London and Paris, production and exports skyrocketed, and our once poor nation quickly became a wealthy superpower. It was with this home-grown Ingenuity from the countryside of New England that America was built.
“You can hardly find an eminent Yankee inventor or machinist who didn’t spring up from what has been called ‘that best school of mechanics,’ the New England farm.”
-Edmund Fuller, “Tinkers and Genius: The Story of the Yankee Inventors”, 1955
We believe this characteristic is still a part of our culture here in New England; we’re hungry for complex challenges, and are relentless in finding the best solutions for them. As Mark Twain wrote, New Englanders are “full of fight.”
Thus, we couldn’t imagine a better name for our latest project: Ingenuity.
A year ago, we overhauled our production equipment with a new brewhouse and several new fermenters. The move increased our capacity and efficiency, which produced something we’ve rarely seen since opening in 2014: time to dedicate towards new beer designs.
Brewing small scale batches, where we can explore various ingredients and methods, is definitely the fun side of beer brewing. Once a recipe is complete and scaled, brewing feels less like an art and more like manufacturing (which, it is). After all, sticking to procedure at scale is key in continuously providing the consistent, quality product you have come to expect and demand. For us at Able Ebenezer, we’ve had to spend the better part of 4+ years dedicated to keeping up with the demand for just 2 of our brands: “Burn the Ships” & “Victory nor Defeat.”
Yet, in the spring of 2018, we were finally able to begin firing up our pilot system on a regular basis, producing 5-gallon batches of experimental designs behind the scenes. Many of you who are regulars at the brewery are familiar with these experiments, and have asked repeatedly when we’ll make one available at scale. As such, our team has decided that once a design has been explored, adjusted and perfected to our standards, we will bring it to scale for one production batch as part of a series of experimental beers under the banner of “Ingenuity.”
With that, we are excited to announce the release of Ingenuity #1; a New England IPA containing over three pounds of hops per barrel, giving it a strong citrus and tropical fruit aroma and flavor. Since this is new for us - and since we have to keep the core brands flowing - only one batch of #1 will be produced, and it will only be available on draft.
Details: The first kegs will be tapped at the brewery on Friday, February 8th @ 4pm. To ensure we have enough volume for our regulars, we will not release any kegs out for distribution. Heads up: we will offer growler and quart fills at the start, but may have to limit them after the initial release.
With that, we’re excited to finally share this fun project with you. Thank you for joining us in this effort; it wouldn’t be possible without you. Cheers!