Malt Wine: It’s Just Science

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 6.22.46 AM.pngIn 1863 John McKnight’s Son (first name unknown) was a brewer operating the corner of Canal, Hawk and Orange streets, space currently occupied by the Sheridan Avenue steam plant (Canal was later renamed Sheridan). His unrivaled malt wine was available everywhere, bottled and in wood. Let’s assume that means barrels. He had agencies in all the principle cities of the Union! And in order to prove that his superior Albany pale, brown and amber ales and XX and porter were, in fact, superior, he enlisted the services of science. In particular, he asked a scientist to rave about the purity of a product called “malt wine.”

His advertisement includes a letter from Charles H. Porter, M.D., professor of chemistry and pharmacy in the Albany Medical College, and Chemist to the New York State Agricultural Society. His letter avers:

“I have made careful chemical examinations of several samples from different brewings of the article known as ‘McKnight’s Malt Wine,’ and find it to be, as represented, a liquid containing nothing but the fermented extract of malt and hops. The different specimens were found to be nearly uniform in composition – the slight difference observed being principally in the amount of alcohol present, owing probably to the varying length of time that had elapsed since the brewings were made.

“The Malt Wine examined contained no excess of saccharine matters, such as sugar or honey (as is often the case with similar articles), and which have the effect to mask, to a more or less considerable extent, the peculiar flavor of the hop, and at the same time to diminish the medicinal value of the malt liquors in which they are found.

“The amount of alcohol contained in the ‘Malt Wine’ is considerably greater than is generally found in American Ales. From the examinations I have made, I am satisfied that the ‘Malt Wine’ is made from carefully selected barley and hops, and is skillfully brewed; that in point of purity, and all desirable qualities, it is fully equal to the best imported ales. As such I can confidently recommend it to the public as an agreeable beverage, and to Physicians as a desirable article for medicinal use.”

Just wonder how Dr. Porter got paid.

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