Beer And Our Founding Fathers

Our amazing nation is about to celebrate its 240th birthday. Someone get the candles out because there is one massive birthday cake needed to ring in this holiday. Also, don’t forget the beer; it may be more important than the cake.

See, Americans have always loved a refreshing beer, but its relationship with our founders may be closer than you think. Here are some good ol’ facts about our Founding Fathers so you can drop some knowledge at your next cookout.

Post-presidency, Thomas Jefferson, our Nation’s 3rd President, applied his mind to the art of making beer, which had actually been an undertaking of his wife, Martha (#girlpower). Using locally grown hops and malts and by studying “The Theory and Practice of Brewing,” written by Englishman Michael Combrune in 1804, Jefferson bottled his first batch of beer at his Monticello estate in 1812. Yay for homebrewing!

“Beer, if drank in moderation, softens the temper, cheers and spirit, and promotes health.” 

In 1810, the “Father of the Constitution” himself, James Madison, entertained the idea of creating a federal brewery upon the suggestion of NYC brewer Joseph Coppinger who believed this would create better standards for malt liquor and curb the growing popularity of spirits. Madison wrote to Coppinger in 1815.

“I have no doubt, either in moral or economical view, of the desirableness to introduce a taste for malt liquors instead of that for ardent spirits. The difficulty is in changing the public taste and habit. The business of brewing is now so much introduced in every state, that it appears to me to need no other encouragement than to increase the number of consumers.”

Yeah, so consumers increased and here we are. #craftbeerlovers

Well, sort of. One of the most famous beer recipes around is George Washington’s instruction for making small beer. Here it is, word for word:

“Take a large sifter full of bran hops to your taste – boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 gall. into cooler put in 3 gallons molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the cooler. Strain the beer on it while boiling hot let this stand til it is little more than blood warm. Then put in a quart of yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blanket. Let it work in the cooler 24 hours then put it into the cask. Leave the bung open til it is almost done working – bottle it that day/week it was brewed.”

So, there you have it. Beer was embedded into our earliest days as America and has remained a forefront of American culture for at least 240 years (since we can’t ask Washington how long he’d been brewing before his presidency, we’re going with 240). Next time you crack open a can of craft beer or pop open that rare bottle you’ve had aging to perfection, make sure to educate your neighbors with how important beer truly is.


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