Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Homunculus!

Yesterday was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve had.  The food was outstanding - thanks to the efforts of my wonderful wife.  The company was festive - my brother, his wife and their three daughters.  And the beer was unique and tasty - just the way I like it. My brother brought over a variety pack from River Horse in Lambertsville, NJ and a 22 oz. bottle of Homunculus from Smuttynose Brewing Co.  The River Horse is fine beer, but the Homunculus was more memorable in name and flavor. 

Being a biology teacher, I’m probably the only person I know who knows what a Homunculus is.  The bottle has pictures of what look like spoons with faces on them.  They actually are supposed to represent sperm.  Back in the old days, they didn’t give women much credit for the baby she carried for 9 months and then delivered.  People, even scientists, believed that a sperm contained a tiny preformed human – a homunculus.   

 I was very curious about what this has to do with beer.  The bottle says. “After years of gestation, our hoppy Belgian style ale, “The Gnome” has been reborn as Homunculus.  Impregnated with loads of hop character, balanced with malt sweetness and fruit esters derived from Belgian yeast”.   Though the reproductive references were cute, it still didn’t help me understand the name of the beer.  

So I went to the Smuttynose web site and read the following: “The Gnome was brewed in homage to the recent arrivals of hoppy Belgian beers that we're starting to see here in the US.   I was really shooting for that beautifully soft hopping that's found in the Houblon Chouffe, however, the Gnome has developed its own unique characteristics and flavor profile”.  This is helpful in understanding the taste but not the name.

I guess they just named it something that would keep people like me wondering “what’s in a name?”.  If anyone else has a clue what the name has to do with Gnomes or beer I’d love to find out.  And have a Happy Homunculus!

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