There was just something missing. And Trevor Beemon knew it.
By Michael J. Pallerino>>Photography by Katherine Frye
Every time he walked by the flowering cones of the hops plants growing outside the Root House Garden, he couldn’t help but admire the blooms. And then, as the winter frost creeped in, he’d watch as the plants were cut back until the next bloom.
After years of watching the process repeat itself, Beemon, the executive director of the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society, asked himself: Why waste the hops?
If you know anything about beer, you know that hops are an age-old beer seasoning that ward off spoilage from wild bacteria and bring balance to sweet malts. They are the ingredient that helps create head retention – a natural filter that clears the beer and adds flavor. They put the “bitter” in beer.
So Beemon devised a plan. Why not take the perennial vining plant growing at the Root House and partner with a local brewing company to create a beer that could embody the tradition and history of the area?
“It was just a shame to see the hops wither away without being harvested,” Beemon said.
So he reached out to Thomas Monti, the owner of Schoolhouse Beer and Brewing in Marietta, and an adjunct professor and instructor of brewing at Kennesaw State University. After visiting the craft beer shop, he admired that Schoolhouse not only made and served beer, but also strived to teach people about what they were drinking and how it was made.
The partnership between a local historical landmark and local brewery was a match made in local folklore legend. The William Root House, an antebellum house located in downtown Marietta, is one of the only wood frame structures in the downtown area to survive the Civil War.
Constructed in the 1840s, it was owned by the Root family. William Root, Marietta’s first apothecary (druggist), ran a fairly lucrative business for years on the Square in the building where Sugar Cakes Patisserie now is located.
“The Root House is important because the people who lived in the house were not famous or wealthy,” Beemon said. “Nothing especially important ever happened there. No one famous ever slept there. It was just an average, middle-class house. While mansions and plantation houses are usually spared from the wrecking ball, ordinary homes are often torn down in the name of progress. Somehow, the Root House survived.”
Interestingly enough, the Root House Garden is designed to reflect the gardening practices of the mid-19th century. All the plants growing there have been researched for their availability in Georgia at the time the Root House was built. In the 19th century, the garden would have included plants that were ornamental, medicinal or edible. Back in the day, hops were used as an herbal medicine to assist with conditions such as sleeplessness, anxiety and congestion.
“That’s the really cool thing about this whole partnership,” said Monti, who holds the distinction of being the only academic professor of brewing in the state. “Hops in general don’t grow very well in the South, but we are able to use ones grown locally.”
Brewed in partnership with Cherry Street Brewing in Cumming, Schoolhouse Brewing has introduced Dr. Root’s Miracle Elixir IPA, which recently was premiered at a special tasting at the Root House Museum, along with selections from other local breweries. The Elixir, made from Centennial hops, has an alcohol content of 6 percent, and is available in citrus, grapefruit, pineapple and stern fruit flavors.
“It is an easy drinking beer,” Monti said. “It’s in the IPA category, but not over the top.”
Right now, Dr. Root’s Miracle Elixir IPA is available locally at establishments including Loco Willy’s, the Chicken and the Egg, and the Marietta Pizza Company. It also is available at Schoolhouse Brewing’s shop.
In the end, Dr. Root’s Miracle Elixir will serve as a nice reminder about one of the area’s most treasured historical landmarks. “The William Root House Museum and Garden is a ‘must visit’ location because it is one of the most authentic and progressive historic house museums in the region,” Beemon said. “You can learn the story of the house, the Root family and what life was like in antebellum and Civil War Georgia.”