Do not run for the Jackalopes.
In search of new friends, our Brewer Gnome flew high up in the air over the "Spanish Mountains" of Montana. At a height of round about 6666 metres he discovered, thanks to his geological and petrographic skills, a very strange site on the ground at the convergence of the 3 states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The yellow soil was about 66 kilometres in diameter and resembled the giant crater (caldera) of a super volcano. This caldera overlaps two older calderas in Nevada to the South West. After some investigation, our Brewer Gnome found out that in the history of the earth there had been three huge eruptions in that region – 2 million years ago, 1,2 million years ago and the last one a good 600,000 years ago. Our gnome quickly worked out that this terrible natural phenomenon had occurred round about the year 666,666. Magma (lava and glowing coals) burst through the earth's crust ejecting approx. 6,666km³ of rock, dust and volcanic ash, covering the land with a layer of ash as thick as 2 metres deep over a distance of hundreds of kilometres. A volcanic winter followed which catastrophically afflicted the entire Northern half of the earth. Always thinking positively however, the Americans turned the area into a National Park in their own superlative style. Yellowstone National Park is the oldest (1/3/1872) and the largest (8,983 square metres) park in the USA and, since 1978, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The geysers found there are, literally and figuratively, exhaust valves which spray the surrounding earth with warm water.
Our Brewer Gnome was also no defeatist and tried to get to know the locals. So he ended up making friends with the Chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux Indians, one of the seven council fires of the Lakota tribe (Očhéthi Šakówiŋ) who first very slowly examined and studied bison meat and then turned it into an excellent dish, something which some of today's chefs could learn a thing or two from. The Chief was named Sitting Bull although this had nothing to do with any papal or royal decree. Our Brewer Gnome requested that not all of the stories of his experiences with Sitting Bull should be revealed as that would overshadow the purpose of this important brewing story. So, no Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, no Battle of the Little Big Horn, no mysterious Ghost Dance, but just life in Yellowstone.
Our Brewer Gnome went off into the wilderness with Sitting Bull. We already know about the great herds of bison on the plains near the Rocky Mountains, but Sitting Bull told him about many other animals in Yellowstone Park. There lived various types of bears, deer, coyotes, wolves, pheasants, hares (known locally as jackrabbits) and antalopes (the old English word for antelopes). A natural crossing between the latter two species in earlier times led to the birth of the jackalope. The jackalope was described as a hare with antlers and, in some cases, the tail of a pheasant. Our gnome dreamt that one day he might meet a real jackalope. Sitting Bull explained to him that he should go very cautiously about finding one. These animals were very shy, except when you approached them very carefully. Do not run for a jackalope! Their milk is said to be able to heal certain medical ailments. Jackalopes were said to be able to master a variety of sounds, even to imitate the human voice. And, one day, it happened.
"Hello, I am Chouffe", said our gnome.
"Hello, I am Jackalope", said the jackalope.
It was love at first sight. Chouffe and Jackalope decided to spend some time together and cook up some plans. Sitting Bull decided not to put a spoke in their wheel and fled with his tribe to Canada after first having waged a quick war with the 7th Cavalry led by General George Custer.
Jackalope told our gnome that he already had a long history behind him. In the beginning jackalopes could make no sounds at all and certainly could not speak. But, the more they drank the warm water from the geysers, the more their vocal chords developed until they could mimic all manner of sound, even the human voice. The warm water from the geysers developed their creative spirits and they soon had spiritual dreams. Our Chouffe gnome experienced a feeling of "déjà vu", and remembered having had a similar thing happen to him a long, long time ago. The plateau of Baraque Fraiture pierced his insightful brain. The Cédrogne source of yore watered his yearning to brew and, with an exploding volcano of enthusiasm, he looked at a geyser and cried: "I will help you!"
Before the word "help" echoed out from the caldera, Jackalope had gathered all his friends in no time and went with our Brewer Gnome and his flying buck to the nearest geyser. Chouffe gnome tasted the warm water, nodded his approval and produced the thousand year old recipe with which they could brew real and genuine Chouffe beer. And they went about doing just that. All the jackalopes from around came to help out. Our Brewer Gnome was delighted as he was able to save so much energy by using the warm water from the geyser. He declared the jackalopes Master Brewers of the region and the whole of the Wild West and inspired every American craft-brewer from then on to brew Jackalope Beer.
Not only the jackalopes, but also their beer, were generally recognised as a super product of the region. The State of Wyoming officially recognised the name "Jackalopes" in 1965 and the town of Douglas was named as their home.
The jackalopes have integrated so well into American folklore, myths and warm-hearted legends that their beer and Chouffe beer proudly stand together and celebrate their magnificence. Chouffe and Jackalope remain life-long friends, at least until the year 6666 of the Chouffe calendar.