The first European gnome to visit Niagara Falls meets one of his countrymen.
After 666 years wandering and flying over the new continent our Flying Brewer Gnome thought it would be nice to get to know the locals. One day he landed close to a great pool of water. He stood, with his buck, on the shore of Lake Erie, the second smallest of the Great Lakes.
The Erie Indians welcomed him with open arms and told their guest that he was the first European gnome to visit them. As a welcome gift, they gave our Flying Brewer Gnome a native canoe and offered him a trip along the Niagara River to Goat Island where his buck would have the time of his life.
It is important to know that the descent of the Niagara River from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario was, in those days, a similar tourist attraction to the descent of the river Lesse in the Belgian Ardennes. Our gnome paddled away merrily for several days whilst his buck flew overhead following him. One day the water began to flow faster and faster. Our gnome found himself and his canoe on the edge of the rapids. The flying buck came down to help his master. With a rope tied around the buck's neck, he was able to save the gnome and they both landed with a deafening crash on an island somewhere in the middle of the Niagara River.
On this island lived a solitary goat which wandered around full of longing. John Steadman was the only person who knew that an extremely harsh winter in 1790 had killed off his whole herd of goats apart from one good natured animal which survived for many years on the island. Therefore John gave the island the name it deserved: Goat Island.
Our buck took great pleasure in the hellish noise which grew ever stronger and this gave him the energy to continue his journey and remain loyal to his master. After a well earned rest, our Brewer Gnome decided to continue his voyage of discovery flying on his buck. He ordered the buck to stop playing with the goat and off they went.
They had not gone more than 10 meters in the air before they saw how the waters of the river plunged many meters downwards. August Porter built a 230 meter long toll-bridge to the island in 1817. The native Indians were allowed to sell their wares to passing tourists.
The waterfalls with their immense flow rate of 110,000 cubic meters per minute are world famous. The waters flow from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.
Suddenly our gnome spotted a huge two-master sailing up the mighty river. The ship had a figurehead of a flying horse on its prow and was called "Le Griffon". Our Flying Brewer Gnome soon realised that he was not the only European who had seen the great Falls in 1680. Our gnome landed with his buck on the deck of the impressive sailing ship and met Father Louis Hennepin who was attempting to sail upstream from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.
Louis had, in fact, given the lakes other names: Conty and Frontenac. And, in fact, Louis was not his real name as he was born in Ath, Belgium in 1640 and had been christened Antoine in what was then known as the Spanish Netherlands. He was there on the Niagara partly as a Franciscan missionary and partly on a voyage of discovery on behalf of the French king Louis XIV (the Sun King) from where he got his new christian name: Louis. Canada was known at that time as "La Nouvelle France" (New France).
Hennepin moved to Utrecht in The Netherlands and published a new report there in 1697 in order to take revenge on La Salle and France. His presented this publication to Willem III of Orange-Nassau. A map of the Great Lakes published by Jan Ten Hoorn in Amsterdam in 1688 bore the signature of Louis Hennepin.
For those who do not believe in gnomes, Louis Hennepin is regarded as the first European to have seen the Niagara Falls.
In his writings he never mentioned his meeting with the Flying Brewer Gnome, otherwise he would, in all likelihood, have been burned at the stake.
He was never again granted permission by his superiors to travel to America. Thanks to his books, Louis Hennepin was able to bring the Niagara Falls to the attention of the world. There is now a park in the United States named in his honour.
The brewery was founded in 1997 by Don Feinberg with the intention of brewing Belgian style beers. Brewery Ommegang Ltd. was acquired in 2003 by the Duvel Moortgat Group. Their main brands Hennepin, Abbey Ale, Witte, Rare Vos and Three Philosophers are high fermentation beers which are bottle conditioned, a process which was perfected in close collaboration with Duvel Moortgat. As well as this, Brewery Ommegang Ltd. uses Belgian malt and the same hops as the Duvel Moortgat Brewery, namely Saaz and Styria.
The brewery is located in Cooperstown (New York State) on a 52 Hectare site where hops were formerly grown. The brewery complex is built in a style reminiscent of the large farm buildings found in the Belgian region of Henegouw where Hennepin was born.
After drinking a tasty, hoppy Hennepin, our Flying Brewer Gnome resumed his unparalleled journey with his faithful flying buck, totally unaware that his good friends, Chris & Pierre from the Ardennes, had in 1988 sent 25% of their first gnome beer across the Atlantic to flow up to Quebec via the St. Lawrence River. That was the first time in the history of the Brewing Gnomes that beer had flowed so fast up river against the current. Wonders will never cease! 600 hectolitres of La Chouffe beer inspired the Canadians to believe in the whole Chouffe story..