Hob Knob Brewing Company

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Drinkin' A Lager, Eh? You're Welcome!

After pounding away on my keyboard for a few hours trying to get some semblance of a finalized business plan put together, I decided to take a short break, and pulled out some light reading material.  With a little Michael Buble' playing in the background (I lost my Kenny G & Celtic Woman albums), I thumbed through "Yeast" by Jamil Zain-impossible to spell last name.  Starting at the beginning the book dove into the history of the single-celled alcohol producing work plants. Upon reaching the section where they pay homage to the scientists who learned to propagate the "good beer" yeast strains, I came across a name. "Emil Christen Hansen." As I phonetically had to sound out his first name, lightning struck.

"Hansen? Hey wait a second. MY GRANDMA'S LAST NAME WAS HANSEN!" I read on.  I wondered if we were distant relations. It turns out this 'E-mil' guy was a pretty big deal. Consider him the second in command to Louis Pasteur! He isolated the first yeast strain and brought it to the brewing world. Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis - better known as lager yeast. So yeah, that lager you're drinkin', you're welcome. Who know's maybe Emil is my great great great grandfather. I mean, we do look a lot alike...just look at that hair line and giant noggin!

To add to the excitement, I found out he was from Denmark. You guessed it...my family lineage - Danish. There isn't a kringle safe when I'm around. I immediately went to ancestry.com to pour over their records.  Worthless. On to archives.com.  Again, equally worthless. As I was cancelling my free 7 day trials (which I'll still probably no doubt be billed for), I came across the site familysearch.org. Finally, I was making some headway.

I started with my grandmother, Norene Hansen and followed the lineage back through time.  My great grandfather - Paul Hansen - my Great Great Grandfather - Hans Peder Hansen, and all the way back to my Great Great Great Grandfather - Poul Hansen (no that's not misspelled, that's how they spell 'Paul' in Danish...mmmmmmMMMM...Danish...anyways). I'd traced my family genealogy all the way back to Poul's birth in 1838 - 4 years before Emil was born in 1842, and knew I was only one generation away from seeing if I was actually related to one of the most important men in brewing history.

...and then the trail just stopped. Agonizing hours went by. I wasn't able to see beyond Poul's lineage nor was I able to get any further than Emil's father, Joseph, who they had absolutely no information on.

So, I'll just have to pretend to be related to the father of the lager revolution, because the simple fact is that 'Hansen' is about as common in Denmark as 'Smith' is over here.  It wasn't a total loss.  I did find some very interesting ancestors on the Hansen side of the family.

Enter Knute Hansen (note to self...if I have another son someday...he shall be called "Knute"). Knute was a professional heavyweight prize fighter in the early 30s. It turns out he traveled the world, and was a considered the top contender for the heavyweight world title at one point! The man was a monster. Standing almost 6'5" tall with an 84" reach, he would go on to fight multiple times in madison square garden.

So while I can't confirm whether or not I'm related to Emil, I can say I'm directly related to my Great Great Uncle (I think he'd be an uncle?), Knute Hansen. You know...after looking at the pictures some more, I gotta say, I think I look more like Knute than Emil.  


So that wraps up our walk back through time, and tracing the Hansen family lineage.  As far as the brewery goes, hopefully we will get some good news on the brewery moving forward soon.  I'll keep you guys posted!