Bonhomme Richard was originally a merchant ship built at L’Orient for the French East India Company in 1765. Her design allowed her to be quickly transformed into a man-of-war in case of necessity to support the navy. She made two voyages to China, the first in 1766 and the second in 1769, was transferred briefly to the French Navy but we know her best because in 1779 she was given by King Louis XVI of France to the Continental Congress and placed under the command of John Paul Jones.  Jones had her outfitted as a massive 32-gun ship of the line.

On 23 September 1779, the American squadron, consisting of Bonhomme Richard sailed from Lorient accompanied by USS Alliance, Pallas, Vengeance, and Cerf, encountered the Baltic Fleet of 41 sail under convoy of HMS Serapis and HMS Scarborough near Flamborough Head. Bonhomme Richard and Serapis entered a bitter engagement at about 6:00 p.m. The battle continued for the next four hours, costing the lives of nearly half of the American and British crews. British victory seemed inevitable, as the more heavily armed Serapis used its firepower to rake Bonhomme Richard with devastating effect. The commander of Serapis finally called on Jones to surrender. He replied, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” Jones eventually managed to lash the ships together, nullifying his opponent’s greater maneuverability and allowing him to take advantage of the larger size and considerably more numerous crew of Bonhomme Richard. An attempt by the Americans to board Serapis was repulsed, as was an attempt by the British to board Bonhomme Richard. Finally, after another of Jones’s ships joined the fight, the British captain was forced to surrender at about 10:30 p.m. Bonhomme Richard – shattered, on fire, leaking badly – defied all efforts to save her and sank about 36 hours later at 11:00 a.m. on 25 September 1779. Jones sailed the captured Serapis to the Dutch United Provinces for repairs.

Though Bonhomme Richard sank after the battle, the battle’s outcome was one of the factors that convinced the French crown to back the colonies in their fight to become independent of British authority.

In honor of the Bonhomme Richard, and her namesake Benjamin Franklins Poor Richard, I have concocted a Spiced Ale.  Its smooth, flavorful, and easy to drink.  Perhaps you will be inclined to tell your server, “Sir, I have not yet begun to drink!”

Recipe Specs

  • Batch Size (G):           6.1
  • Total Grain (lb):         14.000
  • Total Hops (oz):          2.00
  • Original Gravity (OG):    1.060  (°P): 14.7
  • Final Gravity (FG):       1.009  (°P): 2.3
  • Alcohol by Volume (ABV):  6.65 %
  • Colour (SRM):             20.7   (EBC): 40.8
  • Bitterness (IBU):         33.1   (Tinseth)
  • Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
  • Boil Time (Minutes):      60

Grain Bill

  • 8 lb American – Pale Ale (57.14%)
  • 3 lb American – Munich – 60L (21.43%)
  • 2 lb Belgian Candi Syrup – Clear (14.29%)
  • 1 lb American – Caramel / Crystal 75L (7.14%)

Hop Bill

  • 1 oz Chinook Pellet (13% Alpha) @ 45 Minutes (Boil) (0.2 oz/Gal)
  • 1 oz Amarillo Pellet (8.6% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma) (0.2 oz/Gal)

Misc Bill

  • 1 oz Ginger Root @ 60 Minutes (Boil)
  • 1 oz Cinnamon @ 0 Days (Primary)
  • 1 oz Nutmeg @ 0 Days (Primary)
  • 2 oz Orange Peel @ 0 Days (Primary)

Single step Infusion at 151°F for 60 Minutes.

Fermented at 68°F with American Ale 1056

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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