New Albion Ale Has Arrived!

January marks the beginning of another exciting year of brewing for Samuel Adams with many new releases scheduled, but perhaps none more exciting than the return of New Albion Ale! First brewed almost 40 years ago by Jack McAuliffe, a Navy veteran, this American Pale Ale was the product of Jack’s desire to replicate the quality, great tasting beers he had enjoyed while serving in Scotland and other parts of Europe.New Albion 6Pack & Pint

Brewed solely with American Cascade hops (why? Because that was all that was available to Jack at the time), New Albion Ale is a golden American Pale Ale that holds a distinct citrus hop note and subtle piney character. A delicious brew, it’s no wonder New Albion Ale inspired so many of the Pale Ales we drink today. In case you missed it, checkout the video from our brewing day with Jack back in July.

In 1976, Jack McAuliffe was quietly starting the American craft beer revolution when he opened the New Albion Brewing Company in a former agriculture warehouse in Sonoma, CA. Jack’s first brew, New Albion Ale, is the original “micro-brewed” beer that started it all. When he got started, no one was selling small-batch brewing equipment. So Jack (a skilled engineer who studied physics and became an engineer after his Navy days) built a three-level brew house of 55 gallon drums that utilized nature’s most accessible energy source: gravity. Jack would lug all the ingredients he needed up a ladder (including heavy bags of hops and malt) to the top level where he would start his brew. The entire brewing operation was homemade, including the copper tube cooler that Jack made and utilized gravity to move the brew through the different brewing vessels. Primary fermentation was in four open drums; which was kept in an air conditioned room. After five to seven days, the beer was racked into 55 gallon drums on their sides with little fermentation locks.

After the beer had settled (typically another week or two), Jack would hand-pump the beer into a ‘bottling tank’ where it sat before bottle filling and cap crowning, which as you guessed it, was done by hand. For the six years Jack was brewing, he remained close to his passion by creating a loft above the brewery floor for eating and sleeping.

Jim and Jack look through vintage New Albion artifacts.

Jim and Jack look through vintage New Albion artifacts.

As for the name New Albion, you have look back to the late 1500’s of British history for an answer. While exploring the west coast of North America on his ship (the Golden Hinde), Sir Francis Drake landed on what is believed to now be northern California. Drake claimed the land for England and named it Nova Albion. As Jack recalls the time in history, almost 300 years after Drake landed, an Englishman established the Albion Brewery in San Francisco (better known today as Bayview-Hunters Point) because of a strong water source found on-site. So when you look at your New Albion bottle or 6-pack carrier, you’ll notice the label (the original design to what Jack used) displays the Golden Hinde departing the now San Francisco Bay area.

Unfortunately like many start-ups in the late 70’s/early 80’s, Jack was forced to close New Albion in 1982 because he could not obtain the additional financing needed to expand his operation. The U.S. was in an economic downfall and the idea of lending money to a craft beer brewer (the first of his kind at that) was unspeakable. As Jack recalls it, banks just didn’t understand what he was doing… they couldn’t wrap their head around the idea of a small brewery. (My, how the times have changed…)

But this month marks the return of New Albion Ale and we’re excited to share this historic brew with you. We used the same malt, hop, and even the same yeast strain (thanks to University of California – Davis, who preserved Jack’s yeast strain profile) to recreate this brew to its original form. We hope you enjoy it (be sure to check out our Find a Sam page to help you find some near you), and when you’re enjoying remember that you are truly tasting a piece of craft beer history! Cheers!


New Albion Profile:

Style:                American pale ale

Malt Varieties:   Two-row pale malt blend

Hop Variety:      American Cascade

IBUs:               30

Color:               Deep golden / 9 SRM

Alcohol:            6.0% ABV

Yeast:              New Albion ale yeast

First Brewed:    1976; rebrewed for the first time in 2012

Availability:       Limited Release starting January 2013. Find New Albion Ale near you by visiting our Find a Sam page.


5-Step Appraisal:

Appearance:  Deep gold
Aroma:  Subtle malt character with the pleasant citrus-floral notes from Cascade hops
Flavor:  Upfront cereal and malt notes with a spicy, fruity, and light pine character; clean but moderate bitterness
Mouth feel:  Medium-bodied
Finish:  Finishes with a little sweetness from the malt and a lingering citrus-orange, floral, and spicy hop flavor
  • Mike Kennerly

    Where,in Roanoke,Virginia,can the new Abion Ale be purchased? Thanks!

    • Samuel Adams

      Hi Mike! Keep tabs on our Find a Sam page as we add locations across the country.

  • jennifer

    I tried to look up where the albion ale is sold around me, but it’s not a choice on your drop down menu. I live near greensburg, pennsylvania. Can I buy it around here?

  • Todd Manship

    Albion Ale sounds good,it is not on your locator list.

    • Samuel Adams

      Hi Todd. Click over to our Find a Sam page ( and scroll down to New Albion Ale. If you’re not finding it in your area now, be sure to check back over the next few weeks as it rolls out into the market.

  • John

    Is New Albion Ale a one time thing, or are you going to brew it on a continual basis?

    • Samuel Adams

      For now it’s a one-time brew as a tribute to Jack!

  • Eric Werner

    Speaking of Ale, has the Sam Adams Pale Ale be retired?

    • Samuel Adams

      Hi Eric. Yes, we’ve put Pale Ale on vacation as we focus on a wide-variety of new brews.

  • Dave

    I usually enjoy new stuff Sam Adams puts out, so I tried this on an impulse buy; I liked it a lot. This is the first “new” beer I’ve tried in a while and truly enjoyed on the first sip. In fact, i can’t believe this stuff didn’t take off when it was first brewed 30 years ago. I guess beer drinkers today are different then in the early 80’s. Yes, I’ll buy it again. I just hope it’s out for a while because it would make a great summertime beer.

    • Samuel Adams

      Happy to hear you liked it, Dave!

  • Oscar

    Just picked up my first six-pack of this brew!! I’m excited to try this!! I have not had a bad beer from Sam Adams and I wish I lived in Boston :)

    • Samuel Adams

      Awesome Oscar! Let us know what you think!

  • Kyle Frank

    I went to the New Albion release party in Fayetteville last night where Jack was there signing autographs and discussing beer, it was great. We are the local distributor so we had New Albion on draft, it was excellent! I met your rep from Dallas and she was very gracious and excited for Jack. I want to thank you for doing this for him and making us proud American beer drinkers.

    • Samuel Adams

      Thank you for the kind words, Kyle!

  • Yosef

    do you know if this beer certified kosher? are there any ingredients besides water, yeast, malt , and hops? tnx

    • Samuel Adams

      Those are the four ingredients we used in this brew, Yosef.

  • David Nesbihal

    I do hope you guys keep brewing this! I love the simple character of this one. It would be a fabulous hot day thirst quencher, much like your Nobel Pils. Wonderful package here honoring the genesis of what made you guys able to be what you are today. I love the fact you guys honored Jack so well, you made it “his” beer with the packaging, only mentioning Samuel Adams in Jim’s blurb on the top label. Awesome job all the way around.

    Now if you guys would start brewing your product in the 5 litre pressurized mini kegs…

    • Samuel Adams

      Thank you, David!

  • Kyle

    Don’t make this a one time brew, it is too good. Make it a seasonal if not a year round brew!!

    • Samuel Adams

      Happy to hear you’re enjoying it that much, Kyle!

  • Larry Bograd

    I had the first 6 pack at Leary’s package store here in Newburyport,Ma last week and it was one of the better brews that I have tasted from Sam Adams. I will buy a case this week. You have done a good job. I hope that this brew will be a regular for us.

    • Samuel Adams

      Happy to hear you like it, Larry!

  • Mike Valenze

    Found New Albion next to all my favorites at the Village Beverage in Wading RIver, NY. Cant wait to try it witha friend tonight. We’ll keep you posted.

  • Gary Gillman

    I want to commend Sam Adams and Jim Koch for working with Jack to reintroduce this vital part of craft beer history. Many long-time beer fans like myself never tasted it “back in the day” because we couldn’t find it on the East Coast. By the time I got out to California in 1983, I couldn’t find any bottles left on the shelves.

    Question for the team and maybe you would ask Jack if you don’t know the answers.

    “When you (Jack) were living in Scotland as part of your U.S. Navy service, what kinds of beers did you drink there that you felt inspired the New Albion profile (setting aside the Cascade element which is all-American)?

    In Scotland at that time, did you encounter cask-conditioned ales for example? Pasteurized and chilled keg beers? Bottled ales?

    I assume that lager – historically an important drink in Scotland – had no specific influence on New Albion since you made ales, porter and stout, would that be correct? Scotch ale as a style generally makes one think of the dark, MacEwan Scotch Ale taste, or Traquair House Ale, say, but New Albion Ale was nothing like that. So what kinds of British (were some English vs. Scottish?) beers did you enjoy at that time that you considered the inspiration for New Albion Ale?”.

    Thanks if you can drill down on this one. I haven’t had the recreation yet but some is arriving via a friend next week and I can’t wait to try it, I’ve been waiting some 35 years.



  • Murph

    I’m enjoying a New Albion as I type. Delicious beer and will be especially good in the coming warmer months. Great job, Jack and thanks to Jim, Jack and Samuel Adams for resurrecting it and making it available


  • Gary Gillman

    Thanks for printing my posting above with all the questions. I have now tasted the beer – 3 out of a 6 pack so 3 to go. I think it is wonderful, and worth waiting over 30 years for. It isn’t really like a modern APA, it is more (in my view) like a Burton-style pale ale. I get a noticeable mineral note, perhaps from the yeast, that reminds me quite a bit of that type of English beer (together with the firm hopping and light color) but in the end it is all-American of course.

    Kudos to all of you for bringing it back and now – how about re-brewing New Albion Porter and New Albion Stout!


    Gary Gillman, Toronto.