Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sojourner Truth Serum Porter


Today we are making a porter in honor of Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and former slave, who also lived in Florence, Northampton, MA from 1843-1857. She came here to join the utopian society Northampton Association of Education and Industry. Her elegant and persuasive speeches against slavery and for women’s rights moved many toward fighting and working toward equality. A nice webpage about her time in Florence can be found here.

Truth is powerful, and it prevails.

This beer is a soft, chocolate-like British-style (irony not lost on us) porter, with LME, Medium UK Crystal malt, UK chocolate and black patent malts, high alpha UK-type hops, and Safbrew s-33 yeast. This is a porter to honor those who ran the Underground Railroad.

We added beets because beets were used by abolitionists in lieu of sugar, which depended on slave labor. Our beer’s beets were steamed, skinned, chopped into cubes, boiled for 10 minutes into a slurry, cooled to 80 degrees, and added to the carboy at racking time (~5 days).

On to the music….

The Hutchinson Family Singers were folk musicians from New Hampshire, who befriended Frederick Douglas and were one of the most popular performing groups of the 1840s. They came to Northampton on Sunday, April 28, 1844 and they sang “The Negro’s Complaint” and “Over the Mountain” to a standing-room only crowd. The Gazette (our local paper to this day) covered the show, and pointed out that the audience came to hear the very popular Hutchinson Family Singers, but not to hear Frederick Douglass speak for abolition. In his speech, Douglass came to the conclusion that “the greatest enemy of the anti-slavery cause is the Church, the bulwark of slavery” (paraphrase from The Gazette). Skeptical of the connection between the Hutchinsons and Douglass, The Gazette wrote, “We regret, however, that the Hutchinsons should have suffered themselves to be used in such a manner.” See here (p. 268) for the Gazette article.

We presume that Sojourner Truth was in the audience at this important event, given that she lived and was active in Florence during this time. As an abolitionist, she was probably a teetotaler, but we hope she would tolerate some moderate use of beer made by feminists and abolitionists today.

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Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Uncategorized