Four score and far more than seven pints ago our forefathers, much like many of us, brewed their own beer. While planning the revolution that brought us the freedown we have today, our founding fathers enjoyed their fair share of ale. The founding fathers are most notably known for, well, founding a nation and a way of life for generations to come but their love of beer was as inherent in them as their belief that we should be free from Colonial England.
For example, after Thomas Jefferson stepped down from his life of public service he actually started making beer himself, taking over the duty from none other than his wife Martha. Jefferson brewed and bottled his first batch of beer at his home of Monticello in 1812, making him one of the earliest homebrewers in the new nation!
Along with plans for battles and ideas for running the United States of America as its first leader, George Washington kept a beer journal, too. This journal had brewing notes and methods for brewing in all types of weather. One of the most famous beer recipes alive today is the one Washington recorded for making small beer.
The examples go on, but the idea remains the same: beer is so closely tied with the start of our nation that it’s as much a part of the USA as apple pie, chopped down cherry trees, and of course freedom. Brewing in the time of Washington and Jefferson was surprisingly similar to how it’s done today, with some obvious improvements in technology helping us to make much better and more consistent beer.
To celebrate the love our founding fathers had for beer, Yards Brewing, located in our nation’s original capital of Philadelphia, PA, came up with their Ales of the Revolution series. Comprised of three different beers, the Ales of the Revolution pay homage to the beers these first leaders of the nation by making modern versions of these historic beers using ingredients from the original beer recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.
Created in partnership with Philadelphia’s City Tavern, a favorite bar of our founding fathers, the Ales of the Revolution showcase some unique beers that are just as good today as they were in the time of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin.
General Washington’s Tavern Porter
General Washington sent quite a few pieces of communication to his officers, but one of these came in the form of a description of a specific style of beer and how to brew it. Using molasses to aid in fermentation and taste, Washington made his porter to resemble those found in Philadelphia at the time. Washington’s Tavern Porter is dark, smooth, with just a hint of dried fruit on the finish. Coming in at 7% ABV, Tavern Porter is an amazing beer that pays homage to our first president and his love of all things beer.
Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce
Benjamin Franklin had a favorite recipe for beer that included barley, molasses, and oddly enough, spruce. When used in beer, spruce can lend floral, citrusy flavors that can lean towards the resinous and piney, depending on use. While the idea of a pine tree in your beer may seem odd, remember that much like hops, spruce has been used for hundreds of years as a botanical spice, even being used as a source of vitamin C to ward off scurvy during the winter.
Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce is a highly approachable amber ale that uses blue spruce clippings from a local organic farmer that are steeped in the kettle during brewing. It’s been said that this recipe came about when hops were cut off from England during the war, this was Franklin’s attempt at an IPA without hops (even though there are hops used in this version today). Tavern Spruce comes in at 5% ABV and is considered a Spice Ale or Indigenous Ale, and even won a bronze medal two years ago at the Great American Beer Festival for Indigenous Ales and another bronze last year for historic beers. The beer is complex with a light spruce flavor and aroma. If you haven’t tried a spruce beer before, this should definitely be your first. You’ll be surprised how well spruce pairs with beer.
Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale
Thomas Jefferson made sure that beer was served at every dinner as a “table liquor.” Jefferson was so enthralled with beer that his earliest plans for his home at Monticello included specific spaces for brewing and storing beer.
Jefferson considered brewing beer a scientific pursuit, which showed in his dedication to the craft. Jefferson considered beer to be ubiquitous with life, keeping it a part of his home and his daily activities. While the beer he consumed daily was a “small beer” of lower ABV than is common today, this was done more for the want to consume it often than an inability to make higher gravity brews.
Much like any successful homebrewer, Jefferson’s neighbors soon started asking for his recipes and methods for brewing, and James Madison even sent someone from his staff to learn the Monticello way of brewing to bring back home with him.
While stronger than Jefferson’s table beer, Yards’ Tavern Ale still pays homage to this early brewer and founding father. Tavern Ale comes in at 8% ABV and is considered a strong golden ale. The brewmaster for Yards worked closely with Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern to recreate Jefferson’s recipe for us to enjoy today. Brewmaster Tom Kehoe chose honey, flaked maize, rye malt, and American hops to make this beer an amazingly unique and refreshing lesson in our nation’s history.
With beers this unique and amazing, it can be hard to choose only one. This is why Yards Brewing has their Ales of the Revolution variety pack. The variety pack comes in the 12-pack variety and has four of each of the Ales of the Revolution included. Pair two of these together and you’ve got a history lesson in a case.
Our founding fathers believed in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and each believed that these three necessities are all found in beer. What better way to celebrate the founding of our nation on July 4th than with beers that are directly tied with those great men that helped our nation stand up for ourselves and demand freedom.
Yards Brewing is proudly distributed in and around Pittsburgh by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.