July 1, 2014
– The oldest microbrewery in Ohio is tapping into the state's connection to space history to offer a "bold yet balanced" tribute to the Buckeye astronauts.
Great Lakes Brewing Company this week is launching its new Seasonal, "Spacewalker American Belgo," a Belgian-style ale.
"Perhaps one of space's great mysteries is why so many of its explorers hail from Ohio," the Cleveland beer-maker wrote in its introduction to "Spacewalker" on its label. "In honor of the 25 courageous astronauts who've called Ohio their terrestrial home, and the nine Ohio men and women who have logged hours walking in space, we present this adventurous brew."
Among the NASA veterans who have hailed from Ohio are John Glenn, the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth; Neil Armstrong, the first person to step foot on the moon; Guy Bluford, the first African-American astronaut; and Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space.
There was even an "all-Ohio" space shuttle mission, STS-70 in 1995, with four Ohioans on the crew of five (the fifth was named an honorary state citizen by the governor).
"No other state has recognized and honored its astronauts quite like Ohio," Don Thomas, a Cleveland-born astronaut, wrote in his memoirs about the all-Ohio mission, "Orbit of Discovery," released late last year. "You can almost feel the envy from some of the other states when they jokingly ask, 'What it is about your state that makes people want to flee the Earth?'"
NASA "Ohio Astronauts" poster. Click to enlarge or click here for a key to identify all 25 Ohio astronauts pictured. (NASA)
Ohio's astronauts have been featured on posters, trading cards and on the back of the Ohio state quarter released by the U.S. Mint in 2002. Now a beer can be added to that list.
"Our [Spacewalker] American Belgo is a trans-continental journey [that combines] bold American hops, candy-sweet Belgian yeast, and a complex blend of malts to boldly go where few beers have gone before," GLBC described.
The brewery held a draft-only, pre-release party for the ale on Friday (June 27), where the pub also introduced "space pong" — a planetary-take on the classic "beer pong" game — in its tasting room. The limited-edition brew 'lifts off' on tap beginning Wednesday morning.
Bottles of "Spacewalker," which feature a label showing a spacesuited astronaut floating above the Earth, go on sale Thursday in GLBC's gift shop. The bottled ale will then be distributed through the brewer's regular markets beginning on Monday (July 7).
Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Spacewalker American Belgo. (GLBC)
"Spacewalker" is not the first microbrew to pay homage to the U.S. space program. Last October, Dogfish Head out of Delaware introduced a beer brewed with real, crushed moon rock (from a lunar meteorite). And in February 2012, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, Saint Arnold, released "Endeavour," after the shuttle of the same title (the name was originally suggested by an astronaut).
In the mid-1990's, the now-former Big Bang Brewery of St. Paul, Minnesota, "space-crafted" Apollo, "the beer that fell to Earth." The lager, which was sold in cobalt blue bottles, was said to embody the same spirit that drew mankind to the moon.
The Great Lakes Brewing Company, established in 1988, is also experienced in flight-themed brews. In addition to "Spacewalker," the brewery has also offered the Seasonal "The Wright Pils," named to honor the Wright brothers, the native Ohioans who invented the first successful airplane.