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Civil War Beer Series: The National Museum of Civil War Medicine And Brewer's Alley Roll Out Commemorative Suds

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The National Museum of Civil War Medicine's Taste of History Night celebrates the debut of Gettysburg Wheat, the fourth beer from the commemorative Civil War Beer Series, today at Harry Grove Stadium.

All four brews -- Antietam Ale, Proclamation Porter, First Draught and Gettysburg Wheat -- will be available to sample during the evening of baseball and beer.

Local artist Marilu Tousignaut was commissioned to produce the label for the latest concoction.

"Wheat and bayonets may well be the strangest request I've ever had for commissioned art," Tousignaut said. "It required some research. Civil War muskets don't normally appear in my scratchboards."

Tousignaut's first concern was with the technical aspects of the project -- depicting the subjects with accuracy -- as well as design, she said.

"As the work progressed, I developed a reverence for the story it told. The story that unfolded in my head and on my board brought the historic facts into harsh reality. The wheat field at Gettysburg is still there as a reminder of another time."

Working with the artist was a pleasure, said David Price, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine's operations chief.

"Her interpretation of this beer label took it beyond my expectations," Price said. "She has made beer labeling an art form. I always knew Marilu would take this project to the next level.

"That's what good visual art does -- it conveys a feeling, emotion and, in this case, a reverence that can't be reached with words or descriptions."

The beer series is a partnership of the museum, the local Monocacy Brewing Co. and local artists -- three entities at the height of their missions -- all working together, Price said.

"It's very special, and Frederick should be proud," he said.

Heather Bodner produced the label for Antietam Ale; Betsy Maymon designed the label for Proclamation Porter and Rick Guariglia, for First Draught.

The beer series

Antietam Ale, the first of nine beers to commemorate the 150th Civil War anniversary, was released in October.

Actual fighting in the Civil War consisted of 45 days out of 1,500 days over four years, Price said. And as the saying goes, "war is an organized bore," so there was a lot of idle time. A picture of soldiers and Gen. George Custer and empty beer bottles and pipes was used for the first beer's emblem.

Proclamation Porter, the second local liquid effort marking events of the Civil War, commemorates the Emancipation Proclamation, one of the great events in American history, said George Wunderlich, executive director of the museum.

The third beer, First Draught, introduced in March, commemorates the Conscription Act of March 3, 1863, which allowed conscripts to buy their way out of fighting in the Civil War for $300.

First Draught Beer is also called "A Rich Man's Beer, A Poor Man's Fight" -- a play on "rich man's war, poor man's fight," associated with the Conscription Act, Wunderlich said.

Master brewer Tom Flores is credited with developing the concoctions, based on recipes from the 1800s discovered by National Museum of Civil War Medicine researcher Terry Reimer.

Price equates the beer series to "bottling a Civil War experience."

This is an example of the museum bringing history alive, he said. ___

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