Richmond, Va.’s Ardent Craft Ales is digging up history with a new brew on the horizon: a beer made using wine that once belonged to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall.
Marshall, who hailed from Richmond and died in 1835, was the United States’ fourth Chief Justice and one credited with shaping the Supreme Court in the early 1800s. He was also a man who allegedly loved his drink. Marshall was particularly fond of Madeira, a fortified Portuguese wine that was a favorite among American revolutionaries.
According to Jennifer Hurst-Wender of Preservation Virginia, a bottle of Marshall’s Madeira survived. Working with Preservation Virginia and “a biologist armed with a syringe,” Ardent Craft Ales will remove a sample of the Madeira and cultivate its yeast to use in the new brew, WTVR reports.
Ardent Craft Ales brewer, Danny Fain admits the chances of this working may be slim, “but it’s worth a shot,” he said. If the experiment succeeds, the beer will be available in 2019.
Meanwhile, Ardent is releasing another beer in honor of Marshall at the John Marshall House on Saturday. Old Molasses Ale is based on a recipe from John Marshall’s cousin, Mary Randolph, who brewed in the late 1700s, according to an announcement on Ardent Craft Ales’ Facebook page.
Like many famous Virginians (cough, Thomas Jefferson), Marshall is hardly an American hero to all. But the chance to sip a beer made using centuries-old wine is an exciting one for Richmond.