The Brewing Lispenards Of New York City

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Lispenards. For a few days I have had Lispenards on the mind. We’ve seen them before. I’ve actually had them on the mind for years. In Upper Hudson Valley Beer, Craig and I wrote this:

After the war was won and New France conquered in 1760, William Johnson continued to import beer into his western Albany County estate but the records indicate that his choices were not local. He is buying Taunton ale from England as well as beer by the New York City brewer Lispenard. It may reflect his further increased wealth as he is also seeking out port wine and New Jersey cider from his southern supplier, the merchants Hugh & Alexander Wallace. Their invoice to Johnson dated Nov. 3, 1772, shows the extent he would go to pour himself and his guests the range of beers he desired:

6/-/- for 3 Barrl Strong Beer at 40/
4/10/- for 3 Barrl. Ale @ 30/
1/7/- for 6 Barrels at 4/6
7/-/- for 10 Barrels Newark Syder at 14/
0/3/- for Carting ale to the Sloop.

I got deeper into that order placed by William Johnson or rather Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet of New York and one of the richest, most powerful men in British North America back in 2010 but suffice it to say that what Johnson was buying was the best he could get. And that included Lispenard’s ale.

What, you might ask, was a Lispenard? As the perpetually excellent Colonial Albany Project tells us, the family was founded in the New World by Anthony Lispenard of La Rochelle France who emigrated in 1669 when he was 29 and lived along the Hudson River for the remaining 27 years of his life in 1696. He was a baker, a trader and a government official including Albany’s Viewer of the Corn from 1689. In the Manual of the Corporation of New York for 1856, this founder of the clan, Anthony, was also identified as a brewer. He left three children: Margaret, Abigail and their unhelpfully named brother Anthony. Anthony Lispenard the younger himself passed away leaving not so much in the records department but three children including a son – Leonard born in the 1714 who inherited the family’s estate.

He led a prosperous private and an important public one, too. He also married well and through his wife Alice or Elsie Rutgers came into possession of one third of a grant made by George II to her father, Anthony Rutgers, which they then expanded then named Lispenard meadows and then built a mansion next door on Lispenard hill – all near a swampy area that then sat in the middle of Lower Manhattan in the area is now part of Tribeca. You can seek these lands identified as “King’s Farm” on this map from 1729. As part of his estate, Anthony Rutgers owned “large breweries and mills located on the North River (as the southern branch of the Hudson west of Manhattan was known) not far from the foot of Cortlandt Street His son-in-law, Leonard, continued the brewing operations. They had children including the unhelpfully named Leonard born in 1743 and, yes, his brother… another Anthony. Rutger’s / Lispenard’s brewery is shown above as it was about 1776 according to Manual of the Corporation of New York for 1856.

It gets a bit trickier now. Not because of all the Anthonys. Because of the Leonards. Father and son are both fairly prominent in New York City before, during and after the Revolution. They show up in the news papers. In The New York Mercury of 22 April 1765, a notice was posted on behalf of Leonard Lispenard requesting the return of three indentured servants who had been in the colony for about five months. One, Phillip M’Cardell, was described as being by trade a brewer and distiller. One of the two Leonards was employing brewers. Another notice was placed in the General Advertiser dated 15 May 1776 stated that the house of Leonard Lispenard, Esq in Wall street was being occupied by students of King’s College. Despite such seeming Loyalist credentials, three months later on 17 August, George Washington issued an order that guards be mounted day and night at Lispenard’s brewery. Lispenard Senior (aka 1714-1790) had already thrown his lot into the Revolution. He was a member of the colony’s Committee of Correspondence in 1774 and backed Washington publicly on his return to New York City in 1775 and likely a Son of Liberty.

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Anthony, brother of Leonard Junior (aka 1743-1800), takes off in the brewing business in his own right. He marries one Sarah Barclay in 1764 and becomes “the proprietor of the extensive breweries on the Greenwich road, near the foot of Canal Street.” I am guessing that this is the Lispenard that Sir William Johnson buys beer from through agents in 1772. In the 1 June 1791 edition of the New York Daily Gazette, a notice was placed under the headline “Brewery, North-River” which stated that Anthony Lispenard had taken his son – yes, of course.. because there was no other choice – Leonard into partnership. Note this map from 1783. Notice that they are still described as sitting on the Hudson. Shipping beer on the Hudson. And father and son – Anthony and Leonard – were inviting orders for porter, ale or table beer. The address for Leonard was given as 15 King Street. This Leonard traveled to England shortly after end of the American Revolution in 1783, and remained some years in London with the Barclays, relatives of his mother and founders of the famous breweries. On 10 December 1804, a short news item appeared in the The Daily Advertiser from New York stating:

At an early hour yesterday morning the city was alarmed by the cry of fire. It proved to be at Lispenard’s brewery, in Greenwich-street. The premises, at present occupied by Mr. John S. Moore, with the content were destroyed. What the probably loss may be we have not learned; it must however be very considerable.

An article in the Commercial Advertiser from the same date stated an entire wing of the building had been destroyed. Notice in the upper left of this map from 1789 how the Lispenard estate sits on the road to Greenwich.

The family name fades. Sons die childless. No one gets named Anthony or Leonard. The next generations in the 1800s also appear to lose interest in brewing. In 1907, the remains of Leonard Lispenard (1743-1800) were uncovered as part of a construction site. A report in The New York Times from 9 April of that year details the find as well as some of the family’s legacy. He had been buried near the farm in New Rochelle near where his great grandfather, the original Anthony, had settled after moving south from Albany. A street is still named after them.

So…There Was An Exporting Albany Brewery Before 1790

albfaulkalbreg18oct1790It’s been a busy time. Busy at work. A family matter to attend in the States. A federal election to fret about. Baseball playoffs to obsess over. Hardly time to play around with newspaper databases. Ah, well. Winter is coming. There will be time for that. Time to come across things like this ad from The Albany Register of Albany, New York from 18 October 1790. Craig and I told the story of William D. Faulkner in Upper Hudson Valley Beer in this way:

Faulkner began his brewing career in New York City in the late 1760s. Faulkner initially partnered with New York City merchant Leonard Lipsenard—the son of Albany brewer Anthony Lipsenard—to sell bottled ale and beer; then with Stephen Rapalje and Anthony Ten Eyck, but by 1771 had opened his own brewery on Cow-foot hill, in what is now modern-day Harlem neighboorhood of Manhattan. A fire in his New York brewery brought about his relocation to Albany, and in 1790 Faulkner began renting a brewery in the city’s northern neighborhood of Arbor Hill—advertising Ales, Porter, Bottled Ales and Spruce Beer. By 1792, however, William Gibbs, announced that he would be occupying that brewery. No record of William Faulkner after that point has been found.

What more can we learn from the ad? Notice that he is asking for malt, barley and hops. Local hops were both a wild and cultivated crop for over 150 years at that point in Hudson Valley history. We have a record of wild hop picking by members of the indigenous Mohawk community supplying Albany’s Dutch brewers from the first decade of the 1700s. But notice another thing. This is at least his third brewery, the second one local to Albany. He’s in New York City from the second half of the 1760s. Here’s his ad from a New York City paper from 1768. Albany is in Revolutionary hands from 1776 to 1783, cut off from British held New York City during the war. In the spring of 1779 Faulkner is in NYC and he is hiring a gardener and labourers in the middle of the conflict, according to this ad in The New-York Gazette of 22 March 1779. So, his first Albany brewery must have existed sometime during the years 1783 to 1790 after he relocates up the Hudson after peace breaks out. His last ad from the fall of 1791 shows him brewing at least four beers. And during that time not only is he selling down to New York City but he is selling on to Charleston, South Carolina as well as the West Indies. The Dutch empire held what was then named New Netherlands from the second decade of the 1600s until it finally fell to the English in 1674. Trade routes to the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean were established by the Dutch and continued after the establishment of the colony of New York.

Faulkner was sending his beer down a well trod path. Ales and porters were apparently part of that trade after the American Revolution. Remember that Taunton ale was also being sent to Jamaica, even before the declaration of American independence. It shouldn’t come as any surprise. The English had been shipping large quantities of beer across the Atlantic since at least 1577. Did they all bear the “greatest eclar”? Not sure. But if anyone tells you that all beer before lager starting in the in America in the mid-1800s was smokey, brown and crappy – clearly an untruth – why would anyone in their right mind pay to have it shipped so far? Don’t believe it.

Caleb Haviland Sold Lovely Drinks In 1798

ch1Versions of this advertisement ran in newspapers in New York though the middle of 1798. This one is from the New York Gazette of 12 March. There is a reason the run ended when it did. On November 23 of that year Caleb Haviland’s widow is granted letters of administration after he dies without a will. Which is unfortunate as he seemed to have a good bit of business going for himself. You can go see where his shop was located on 77 John Street in Lower Manhattan but it looks a bit different now. You can see what the district is like at this page from Forgotten New York.

Enough about the geography. Look at the beer he is selling. Nine sorts at least. At least two had been brought into New York from Philadelphia where it had been landed from Britain the previous fall. This business of repackaging and coastal shipping of imported luxury goods is something I’m noticing is fairly common soon after the Revolution. It’s a wonder anyone could tell a Whig from a Loyalist. Porter vaults seem to have been a thing.

It’s one of the last ads I’ve seen listing Dorchester ale. No mention of Bath, Liverpool or Gainsborough ales in Coppinger. Liverpool was not even particularly pro-Revolution. The typo in “Ameriban Porter” is eventually cleaned up in later editions. Hibbert‘s London Porter was still being sold in Mobile, Alabama in 1857. But was it ripe and brisk? Ripe and brisk we are assured are qualities of the best possible order. If the words have the same meaning in the 1850s, ripe appears to mean conditioned, all bubbly like. Not necessarily soured. These sorts of adjectives are rare in ads earlier than this point. This ad from a 1764 edition of the New York Mercury shows how dry they were. You want Dorchester beer? Edward Pollard has some for you.

It’d Be Nice To Get More Actual Spruce Beer Brewed

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Your Vital Links To Beer News For Wednesday Half-Day

craigbbcTwo days back off holiday and I am already taking an afternoon off. Slacker. Well, there was a need to do so but not really to do anything other than mind the wee one. Fortunately there’s afternoon baseball to watch online and lots of beer news to catch up with.

=> First, the best news of all is that I may have figured out a cure to the spam war. When I was in Maine I opened up the comments page on the admin to find myself facing over 5,000 pending comments needing manual deleting. I rolled up my sleeves and figured out a few new things. Result: no evil bad comments for a few days now. Even though the blog’s FB page has neatly stepped in, I can now state with confidence that the comments will be open… as long as this keeps working.

=> Jordan made an excellent point in passing over of FB which needs repeating: “I hope they take about ten percent market share. They will then be eligible for beer store ownership. That’ll put the cat amongst the pigeons.” He’s talking about SABMiller’s enthusiastic return to the Ontario beer market. While I remain unmoved, the petite reform MOU does state that “ownership of TBS will be open to all brewers with facilities in Ontario.” Get it on, SABMiller. Get it on.

=> I was not able to get my butt back down to Albany after driving through the last two weekends coming and going from Maine. Sad as one of the great leaps forward was held yesterday as the BBC programme “Great American Railway Journeys” was in town filming and included the Albany Ale Project as part of the story of its New York episode. As you can see, Craig aka “Showtime” had as natty a sports jacket as host Michael Portillo. Plus I got an email that read “I have spoken to my Director, Tom, and he doesn’t plan on you being on screen on screen on this occasion..” I should have known partnering with a former hand model would end up like this…

=> Another excellent edition of the “Drinker’s Digest” appeared over at Stonch’s place triggering a rather zesty discussion beginning with: “Tandleman has a point there will be certain people with vested interests who won’t be happy to hear it…” Tandy carried forth himself today. Which is associated with this comment on food blogging’s latest ethical crisis by a noted wine writer. As I mentioned in the alternative format, with all due respect, it isn’t at all just about disclosing receipt of resources and benefit as part of one’s writing. That’s just the entry point for the discussion unless you don’t care or don’t understand how it appears to reasonable people when writers accept resources for what they write from the subject matter of the writing.

=> Maureen speaks for me in relation to 80% of the beer books put out in the last five years: “Routson’s beer primer is no better and no worse than 50 others I’ve read in recent years. The usual suspects parade the pages: beer styles, brewing process, cooking with beer, pairing food and beer, “science-y numbers” with which to impress your pals, and tasting notes aplenty.” Personally, I would have used the line a bit ago when we were all supposed to care which beer went with the chilled shrimp and avacado wrap. Note: Jeff gets special dispensation as his book sat with the publisher for two years for some unknown reason. But we can stop with the identa-texts now, right? Write only original beer books starting… NOW!

That’ll do for now. It’s summer. There’s baseball to watch. And a new beer to try. Not telling which. I paid for it myself. No need to tell you anything about it. Bet it will be great. Not telling why.

Who Was Joseph Coppinger, Early 1800s US Beer Geek?

coppinger2The trouble with finding an old text in isolation like the one I wrote about yesterday is establishing some context. Without it, you are at the whim of the person’s claim to fame as opposed to his or her place. It’s as true today as it was in 1815 when Joseph Coppinger published his book on brewing. The context is totally dissimilar. Right now we are still in the era when folk can assert craft beer expertise, isolated from critical assessment due to the flux. We have to take comfort and grounding in the knowledge that few are. In the years leading up to 1815, America was similarly in a time uncertainty. The British were not yet allies again and the lands beyond the east coast’s highlands were not secured. Drifters abounded. I was thinking about this when I was thinking today about Coppinger. How the heck do I know he didn’t make up all that in his book? How can we establish he is reliable? So, I looked to see what I could find out about him. Fortunately, he liked to write letters to the famous and left a bit of a trail:

1800: claims in his 1810 letter to President Madison that, prior to emigrating from Ireland to the US, he published a paper in the reports of the Bath and West of England Society on an improved method of the drying of malt.

1802: Coppinger writes two letters to President Thomas Jefferson. He wrote from New York on the subject of naturalization and the need for him to become a citizen to patent an invention. He is an Irish Catholic recently arrived in the New World;

1802-04: Coppinger appears in Pittsburgh on the frontier partnering in a brewery operation located in and even made out of the former Fort Pitt known as Point Brewery;

1806: Coppinger enters into partnership to establish a brewery in Jessamine County, Kentucky. It never comes into operation and a law suit is begun. The dispute is settled through the intervention of the Rev. Stephen Theodore Badin, the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the United States;

1807: Coppinger wrote from St. Louis a letter to Benjamin Rush, Revolutionary leader. Rush is a pre-Revolutionary anti-slavery activist and a medical doctor. The letter is not about beer so much as a scheme to use public resources to help raise employment levels;

1810: Coppinger wrote to President James Madison describing a list of inventions and also proposes the establishment of a national brewery at Washington. His inventions include an improved threshing machine and a better method of distilling. He gives his address as No 6, Cheapside Street, New York. Says he has been in the brewing trade for twenty years;

1813: An advertisement for Coppinger’s book is published in a Philadelphia newspaper, the Aurora General Advertiser; and

1815: Coppinger writes to former President Thomas Jefferson. He gives his address as 198 Duane St., New York. Jefferson wrote back a couple of week later quite interested in Coppinger’s ideas, noting “in my family brewing I have used wheat as we do not raise barley”.

1815: Coppinger’s publishers, Van Winkle and Wiley of New York, are quite respectable and at the leading edge of the first wave of homegrown American literature. In this same year they publish An Introductory Discourse delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New York, on the fourth of May, 1814 by De Witt Clinton, then Mayor of New York, later state Governor. It is a treatise on the improvement of society.

A brief biography of Coppinger appears in the footnotes to this letter to Jefferson. In his later years he writes two more books: 1817’s Catholic Doctrines and Catholic Principles Explainedand in 1819 On the Construction of Flat Roofed Buildings, Whether of Stone, Brick, or Wood, and the Mode of Rendering Them Fire Proof. He passes away around 1825 after 23 years in the young United States of America. He looks good if a wee bit intense. But, then again, he is a participant in the making of the country, making the world anew. Does this mean he is to be trusted in his description of how to make Dorchester Ale? Not at all. But he has a very good chance of being trustworthy with a bit more digging.

Dorchester Ale: Esteemed When The Management Is Judicious

 

coppingerFabulous. I think my new best friend is Joseph Coppinger. Sure he published his book The American Practical Brewer and Tanner 200 years ago… but so few people come by these days I don’t care to notice such things. Like Velky Al did a couple of years ago, I came across an online copy of the book as I was looking for something entirely different. [No. No, not that.] And when I did I immediately – well, right after checking out the tanning section – noticed there were a number of recipes for beers. Styles of beers even. A listing of styles. In a two hundred year old book about beer. Odd. I thought that was invented in the 1970s by that Jack Michaelson chap. But, more importantly, he included this:

Dorchester Ale

This quality of ale is by many esteemed the best in England, when the materials are good, and the management judicious.

54 Bushels of the best Pale Malt.
50 lb. of the best Hops.
1 lb. of Ginger.
¼ of a lb. of Cinnamon, pounded.

Cleansed 14 Barrels, reserving enough for filling….This mode of brewing appears to be peculiarly adapted for shipping to warm climates; the fermentation being slowly and coolly conducted: it is also well calculated for bottling.

Yes, there is more. I just used those three dots to keep you focused. He goes on and on in fact. Over thirty sorts of beer and a few diagrams like the one above. A few things. First, it’s a description of how to make Dorchester Ale. The careful – or perhaps the caring – amongst you will recall that two years ago while waiting for Craig in Albany to go for a beer, I wandered into the New York State Library HQ and found a large number of mid-1700s newspaper notices for British ale coming into the new world. And a few of those ads referenced Dorchester ale. So there you have it. Dorchester was a top quality ale with a bit of ginger added. Sounds like quite nice stuff. Second, yes, the book was published in 1815. And it was published in that year by the firm of Van Winkle and Wiley located at No.3 on Wall Street. It is a guide aimed at the trade. Aimed at the trade that wants to know about shipping to the warmer climes. Which means exporting ale from New York state. Two hundred years ago. Third, he goes on. And on. The book has a lot of data. I need to get into it to find out what.

I believe this illustrates a point: the problem with records. Believing you know what things were once like based on the available records is a dodgy game. Things like (i) Gansevoort’s adin 1794 asking for barley for ale as the old state in the young nation was coming out out famine leading one to leap to (ii) a prosperous local brewery to the south in 1808 connecting you to (iii) this guide in 1815’s NYC on how to brew for export (iv) all might lead you to understanding that there was in fact a vibrant but little understood brewing trade waaay before the US Civil War and waaay before the advent of lager’s supremacy. But you have to watch that sort of thing. Because records are dodgy things. But at least we may well know what Dorcester ale was. Maybe. Sadly, no reference to Taunton. Maybe. Probably out of style by then in the New York market. That might be it. Maybe.

Beautica Club… Beautility Beer…

beauticaAh, Utica Club. Craig brought Utica Club. He brought a few other beers. Beers that even came in caged cork topped bottles. But he brought Utica Club. It’s a funny beer. An old school macro lager made by a regional craft brewery. Is it hidden craft? Faux macro? Whatever it is, it’s five bucks for three litres at central NY gas stations. Summertime beer. Maybe even a cure for the summertime blues. Maybe. We talked over a pint or two before turning to a few more complex beers. Sweetish with a well placed jagged edge. Everything in its proper place. Nothing off or awkward. A beer for craft’s endtimes. Both pure and XX. According to the label. We talked of these endtimes. I blame Boak and Bailey, writing that non-derivative book that no one else will match. Takes the wind from the sails, didn’t it. So much for no one ever going beyond what’s gone before, been done before. Things get confused once those sorts of things get going. Not knowing your place. Can’t tell heterodox from orthodox. Hard to find which side of the map is up. Things go round and round. The saison driving north from Virginia or the Carolinas was wonderful after the cork popped. But so many are in a similar way, aren’t they.

A Week Off In April To Get Things Done

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It’s either a sign of a well organized life or one with not enough in it. The spring holiday to get the taxes done, straighten out the gardening, fix the step and have some naps. And opening week baseball. Maybe some first round playoff hockey, too. The one thing I am not doing is writing a book. This time last year I was in the middle of writing three books each of which has turned out to be, err, cult classics. Happy readers. Low sellers. Good reviews. Niche huggers. I should have known. Beer writers are either fat or thin. Both from the same cause – anxtity yips. Told a pal once his mistake was doing for a job what I do for a hobby. Beer may still pay for itself. It just doesn’t take me all that far anymore when it does. That’s fine. Been since 2010 that the prospect of a truly idle summer lay before me. I was reading about brainy books back then five years ago today. Probably gave me ideas. Planting some carrot and lettuce seeds will help with that. Tiny seeds in the cold early spring soil don’t give you ideas. Just salad.

New York: Last Bar Seat, Allen Street Pub, Albany

allen3I have to say. I didn’t expect it. Don’t get me wrong. I have known for a long time that I love neighbourhood bars in the US. I spent a great summer evening a decade ago with pals of a pal in Maine watching the All-Star game in a place down by the working wharves. The place was the shape of a cinder block and was made up entirely of cinder blocks. I drank Allagash White and then PBR before the money ran out. I love the idea of walking down the block to a place for a beer even though it does not exist in much of Canada outside of the cities where green things don’t grow. Doesn’t exist in much of any place where the planners have played a role. But there it was. And there I was, too.

The photo above is from the end of the bar at the Allen Street Pub in Albany, New York. That’s it. If I was a cheese eating school boy, I might insert some sort of pretendy disclaimer but let’s be honest – free beer is “money + alcohol” innit. Paul gave us the run of the taps though I hope the tipping went some way to match the beers poured for us. There is no avoiding the history of the western world. The bar is owned by Craig’s pal of decades. Paul. The place opened right after prohibition ended and sits among houses on a side street. A municipal planner’s nightmare. It’s filled with local memorabilia with a definite lean towards Albany’s history of military service. It’s also filled with folk from nearby having a beer. Normal. Beer in a normal place.

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Here’s the thing. Over the few hours we were there I came to the understanding that this was one of the greatest times in a bar I have ever had. It was perfect. It was so perfect that while one in our group was keen to take me on at an argument about craft beer, I realized I was sitting in a dark tiny pub in a foreign land sucking on a rosemary laced saison as Led Zep’s “Kashmir” roasted out the speakers. While, yes, dark and tiny it could serve as a test site for the Bose speakers Paul had installed. The narrow bar had five distinct spaces: cans in the rear, the cooler with its kegs and bottles, back of the bar plus the old bar top and the new one. If you look at that photo above you will see the division. Before he took it over and expanded, the tavern was just that bit at the front – maybe 18 by 30 feet tops. When we got in the place, we grabbed the back bar with its four seats. The front two-thirds of the place was already well settled by guys drinking macros or a shot or both having a good Friday night. Mere feet away I was having a pint of Black IPA with a balancing splash of brown ale handed to me. And then something else. Again, let’s be honest: I was not conflicted. I had given in. Only an idiot wouldn’t.

What did it all mean? It was more like a village pub in some place where I have family in Scotland than most places I had been in North America. Think I had only seen a place this small on this side of the Atlantic maybe in Newfoundland. No dive and not even a joint. A place in the neighbourhood. Normal. Three beer engines, too. He plans to add more. Paul is even running a cask festival in a few weeks. I expect to be in Canada when that is on. Probably in my basement watching TV. A couple of bus rides away from the next nearest good place to hang out. Thanks a lot, fifty years of urban design.