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Mother Road Brewing Company's Archive Ale Taps Into Grand Canyon History

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A Flagstaff brewery and Northern Arizona University's Cline Library Special Collections and Archives have come together to honor the work of Mormon cowboy artist William Dean Fausett with the limited-release Archive Ale. The unfiltered IPA will be available both at the brewery and inside Grand Canyon National Park — although only for a short amount of time. 

But before we get to the beer, let’s start from the beginning, which means going all the way back to the late 1880s. At that time, visitors and entrepreneurs began flocking to the Grand Canyon, including Fred Harvey, who would later become known as the “civilizer of the West.” Harvey is best known for his work meeting the hospitality needs at the unique destination, and with the help of architect and principal designer Mary E. J. Colter, Harvey's Fred Harvey Company would construct such works as The Hopi House, Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Lodge, and El Tovar, all popular structures that are still in use today and have been nationally recognized as historic destinations.

But what does this have to do with beer? Let’s continue on.

The beer started with Sean Evans, craft-beer enthusiast and archivist at Northern Arizona University's Cline Library Special Collections and Archives. Last July, Evans took Michael Marquess, owner of Mother Road Brewing Company, through the library's Fred Harvey collection. During the tour, the pair came across old recipes, menus, and finally the artwork of William Dean Fausett, including a series of Fausett's prints that had been commissioned by Mary E. J. Colter. The prints, aptly named The Seven Stages of Drunkenness, are said to have once rested above the bar at the El Tovar hotel. Upon seeing them, Marquess knew they had to be used as beer labels. And thus, the collaboration was born.

The special-release beer created to showcase the Fausett prints is an unfiltered IPA, pouring copper in color with tropical aromas of tangerine and pineapple. Seasoned with Simcoe and Citra hops, the Archive Ale offers forward notes of pine and grapefruit. It's not only a well-crafted example of an IPA, but as Marquess puts it, it “highlights how private business can work with public institutions and in this case, help preserve the Colorado Plateau.”

The beer is available in a seven-pack collection that features Fausett’s Seven Stages of Drunkenness from Verbose to Comatose. Partial proceeds from sales of the Archive Ale will go to NAU for the preservation of the Fred Harvey Collection at the Cline Library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Purchase of the specialty brew will be exclusive to Mother Road Brewing Company and the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges. A mere 30 barrels were produced.

For more information on Mother Road Brewing Company, visit the Mother Road Brewery website.

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