Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beer in Colonial America, Parsnips and Wood Shavings

I have slowly been working my way through The Brewing Industry and Brewery Workers' Movement in America by Hermann Schlüter, from 1910 and available on Google Books.

I will start with a passage on obtaining the necessary ingredients in the first years of colonization.

In the first year of the settlement the colonists planted the grain necessary for brewing beer, but with poor result, for the soil of Massachusetts was not well suited for the raising of barley. They therefore imported the materials for brewing, and also some beer itself, from England. In the year 1629 forty-five barrels of beer and four hundred weight of hops were brought to Massachusetts Bay at one shipment. Malt was also imported after the attempt to make it from maize had been tried with but slight success. A poem of that time informs us that the Pilgrim Fathers had such a tremendous thirst after alcoholic drinks that for want of beer they made intoxicating beverages out of pumpkins, parsnips, and shavings of walnut wood.
"The Brewing Industry and Brewery Workers' Movement in America", pages 24-25.

Barley and hops couldn't grow for shit in the rocky soil and harsh New England climate, no surprise there. Compared to beer from parsnips and wood shavings, corn beer doesn't sound so bad.

This post powered by Ten Fidy, the wonderful imperial stout from a can by Oskar Blues Brewery.

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