Check Six Brewing Company
Curtiss Jenny Brown Ale
The expeditious evolution of flying machines over the past century has been rather remarkable. The Wright Brothers first took flight in 1903 aboard their rickety Wright Flyer I, a plane built mostly with handmade wooden, cloth and metal parts, and only 44 years later, Americans broke the sound barrier. Furthermore, Americans orbited the Earth only 58 years after the first flight and in less than 75 years after Wilbur and Orville’s amazing achievement, America landed a spacecraft on Mars, 34 million miles away. The changes in aviation technology over the past century have been tremendous and the Curtiss JN-4, affectionately known as the “Jenny”, was one of the most significant steps in the evolution of aviation.
The early Curtiss J planes were very special. The biplanes first took flight in 1914 and instantly set records as the fastest aircraft ever, reaching a top speed of 85.7 mph (the Wright Flyer I went 6.8 mph). They also became the first planes to climb over 1,000 ft of elevation in less than a minute and could top out above 17,000 ft. Inevitably, the planes drew the attention of the U.S. Army and Navy and by 1915 the Curtiss Aeroplane Company began working on a model made specifically for the military. The resulting Curtiss JN-4 became the most famous and successful plane to sail the skies both during WWI and for many years to follow.
After much experimentation with the JN-1, JN-2 and JN-3, the first JN-4 finally took to the air in 1917 and found use both in the U.S. and Canada. It never saw any direct combat but instead became a highly versatile training vehicle on which almost every pilot in the U.S. military earned their wings. It is estimated that 95% of all WWI pilots learned to fly in a JN-4 including British pilots who trained in Ontario, Canada during the summer and at Camp Taliaferro, a short-lived military training facility near Fort Worth, TX, in the winter. A special Canadian version of the plane still carries the nickname “Canuck”.
The “Jenny” had two seats; one to accommodate the student, who sat in front, and the other for the trainer, who sat in the rear. Its 90-hp, V-8 engine helped the plane reach a cruising speed of 75 mph as well as about 6,500 feet of elevation. It was made mostly of sheet metal, pulleys, wires and gears; weighed 1,390 lbs; was 27-feet, 4-inches long; and had a 43-foot, 7-inch wingspan. It also had no brakes. The plane was stopped by pulling a lever which caused the rear elevators to rise and forced the tail of the plane downward. On the bottom of the tail was a large, solid piece of wood that would then dig into the ground and slow down the machine.
The JN-4 flew with tremendous speed and agility for its time, and modifications allowed it to be landed both on skis and floats. Over 6,000 of the planes were produced and when WWI came to a conclusion the surplus machines flooded the civilian market resulting in many purchases by civilian companies, pilots and enthusiasts. These new owners found a variety of new uses for the JN-4, including as stunt planes and for delivering the world’s first Air Mail. The hollow space behind the cockpits also allowed the planes to be used for medical evacuations and they became the world’s first aerial ambulances both during and after the war. Some JN-4s were even purchased just so they could be torn down, rebuilt and analyzed by other aeronautical companies, making them the inspiration for many further advancements in modern aviation designs.
Many different varieties of the “Jenny” have been used around the world including in England, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Cuba, Argentina and China and dozens of JN-4s are still found in aeronautical museums and personal collections around the country. But the “Jenny” also holds one other unique place in American culture, as the centerpiece of the famous “Inverted Jenny” 24-cent U.S. Air Mail postage stamp. A stamp was issued in 1918 that featured the Curtiss JN-4 but on 100 of the stamps (one sheet), the plane was accidentally printed upside down. The mistake has become the rarest and most valuable U.S. Post Office printing error of all time. In 2018, one of the stamps sold for just under $1.6 million.
Fortunately, a pint of Curtiss Jenny Brown Ale from Check Six Brewing Company comes at a much more reasonable price. Located in the southeast corner of North Carolina (the state that makes the claim as “First in Flight”), Check Six Brewing Company honors many of the planes, old and new, that have helped shape both the world of aviation and the United States of America.
From the Brewer: Our version is a bigger American interpretation of an English Brown Ale with a floral aroma and brewed with East Kent Golding and Brewers Gold Hops. This Ale has a mild hop presence, accompanied by a pleasant floral nose provided by dry hopping full cone centennial hops.
ABV 5.6%, IBU 40
Tim Hassel - Co-Founder, President & CFO, Noah Goldman - Co-Founder, CEO & Brewmeister, Mike Goldman - Vice President & Brewery Operations Manager, Norm Weiss - Vice President, Secretary & Certified Beer Judge, Justin ‘Maggs’ Maggard - Head Brewer