The efforts of Spanish exploration have a long-standing association with Florida and our own Gulf Coast is no exception. Live in Pensacola for a little while and you’ll end up hearing everything there is to know about Don Tristan de Luna, for example.
Pretty soon, we’ll be celebrating our annual Fiesta of Five Flags which culminates in the parade celebrating the official settlement of Pensacola by the famed Conquistador. Never mind the mission failed due to poor assumptions of the shelter of Pensacola Bay, the decision to take 5 weeks to unload the ships and/or build storage facilities and leaving the food on board the boats. Whether or not such structures on shore would have withstood the hurricane that took out 8 of his 11 vessels, decimated their supplies and killed hundreds of the expedition party is speculation at best. No, appreciate that Luna was here first… as a European. And all of the above was before the starvation and mutiny.
I found some interesting online resources about the mission to establish a permanent colony in “La Florida,” particularly a record of their food supply. We’re taught in elementary school how sailors loaded up on citrus fruit to stave off scurvy, and I’ve got a personal fascination in the history behind history, so discovering the food manifest on AmericanHeritage.com’s Shipwrecked History section provided some insight to the days of unknown frontiers.
Persimmons, papaya and sapote from the Caribbean were packed alongside dried/preserved plums and cherries from Spain. While all are good sources of scurvy-fighting Vitamin C, what are pointedly missing from the list is oranges. We know that the genocidal Columbus brought Seville oranges to the Bahamian archipelago; and the bulk of Luna’s crew, soldiers and settlers – all Spaniards – would have found oranges a homey comfort. Curiously, no oranges came to Pensacola on that journey.
Considering how the hurricane of September 1559 sent some of Luna’s food-laden ships into the groves adjacent to modern-day Naval Air Station, I envisioned the contents of the fresher crops being scattered into the woods and marshes only to have their seeds distributed by hungry birds and four-legged critters.
Well, Seville oranges ended up here somehow and they, along with the Spanish explorer history, have once-again influenced our local Pensacola Bay Brewery to craft a beer representative of the flavors of our home. Treasure Grove Pale Ale is a walk through a citrus orchard in liquid form. Pale straw-gold, Treasure sports a nice, fluffy head that leaves lacing like Caribbean islands on an ancient map. Mark Robertson’s and Rogers Conolly’s use of Citra hops provides floral scents of orange blossom along with grapefruit and caramel malt. The beer is well-balanced between bitter and sweet with flavors of tangerine peel, lemon and agave nectar. True to the APA style, Treasure Grove is light, crisp and flavorful.
Explore this tasty beverage and conquer your taste buds. I’m hoping this beer will stick around much longer than Luna did.