For me, I know I was hardly even here! My birthday is in December, and I was born in 1968, and, well, that was a long time ago! But, who’s counting??
Lamplighter Brewing Company opened in Cambridge, in 2016; they are self-professed brewers of New England-style IPA’s, Sours, and Seasonal beers, but they often brew specialty one-off batches of beer as well. Enter, 1968; this beer is brewed in dedication to, and collaboration with, Just-A-Start, also based in Cambridge, MA.
This beer resonated with me first, because of the name. Second, because of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Just-A-Start, an organization that is dedicated to housing security for low to moderate income families. And, third, it made me think of something I experienced as a young girl growing up; the Fresh Air Fund.
Their names were Sylvia and Ruben; we were the host family for this dynamic sister and brother from the Bronx. They too, came from a low income family, and as part of the Fresh Air Fund, my family was matched with theirs as a host family for many summers spent in northern NY in the 1970’s. The Fresh Air Fund is designed to match children from low income situations, with families who have room in “their home and their heart” to be able to share the experiences of living in the more rural, small towns of New York state.
All too often, we, as humans trying to make our way in this crazy world we call home, forget about those who are less fortunate. The Just-A-Start program and the Fresh Air Fund each have similar goals and values in mind; and the one thing that really hit home for me, was how each program integrates “community engagement” into their programs.
Lamplighter’s beer, 1968, is very malt forward, and somewhat reminiscent of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s a 5.5% abv, American Pale Ale, with a light piney hop character, a soft crackery body, and a slightly spicy, yet sweetly malty finish. Whether intentional or not, the similarities are striking, and with Sierra Nevada starting in 1980, and Lamplighter in 2016, there is the slight possibility that Lamplighter took a cue from a page of Sierra Nevada history! I’d always like to think that the new, always draws from the experiences of the old.
My experiences with Sylvia and Ruben, and all the amazing times we had at camp, at the river, downtown, with family, and more, are my old experiences. Having sipped on Lamplighter’s 1968 for the last half an hour, I am reminded of the new experiences in my life; of new breweries, who have a focus on community engagement, and simply being present to their community. And, of this crazy industry that is growing in leaps and bounds. Everything is cyclical, and decades later, after having had the experiences of just hanging out for the summer with my two new friends, Sylvia and Ruben, we brought this beer, 1968, in to our store, and I was reminded how interconnected everything can be, and how what was once old, is new, and what was new, is a little bit old.
Co-Founder – Craft Beer Cellar & CBC Belmont
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