10 AM – 6 PM
Herkimer House
200 NY-169
Little Falls, NY 13365

Perhaps you are an accomplished homebrewer and you want to appreciate the challenges faced by brewers in the 18th Century who brewed good beer without all the instrumentation and modern equipment we rely on, perhaps you are a history buff and want to know just what beer tasted like in 1770, or perhaps you just enjoy a good story and some fine beer.  If any of these are you then you should join the Regimental Brewmeister for this immersion event and learn to brew like our forefathers.

This will be a rolling demonstration throughout the day and site admission is free so make day of it in the Mohawk Valley.  The Herkimer Home is a Georgian-style mansion that was home to General Nicholas Herkimer. In 1777, General Herkimer assembled 800 militiamen, supported by 60 allied Oneida warriors, and marched against the British invasion force of Colonel Barry St. Leger who had laid siege to of siege to Ft. Stanwix.

St Leger led the western branch of General John Burgoyne’s New York invasion.  Burgoyne’s invasion was a three-pronged attack that would have Burgoyne advance south from Canada to capture Fort Ticonderoga; Sir William Howe would advance up from New York City; and St. Leger would advance through the Mohawk River Valley and secure a western water route between Canada and New York City. Both Burgoyne and St Leger’s advances were repelled and Howe got side-tracked in trying to capture Philadelphia. 

When St. Leger arrived at Fort Stanwick he ordered the opposing commander, Col. Peter Gansevoort, to surrender. Gansevoort refused and the two sides settled in for a siege that lasted twenty days (August 2 – August 22).  Shortly after the siege began, American militia under General Herkimer marched to Stanwix in an effort to relieve the siege. Herkimer had almost 800 militiamen and 60 Oneidas as scouts. Hearing of Herkimer’s column, St. Ledger dispatched Sir John Johnson and about 100 Loyalist light infantry, supplemented by about 400 Mohawks.   Considered to be a significant turning point in the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Oriskany, fought on August 6, 1777, has been described as one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Although wounded in the leg, Herkimer kept command during the fierce combat. After the battle he was carried home where he died 10 days later from complications following the amputation of his leg.

On August 20, St. Leger learned that Benedict Arnold was leading 3,000 men toward  St. Leger to break the siege.  In fact, Arnold only had 700 troops but fearing his information to be true and experiencing tension from his native allies (generally caused by the guerilla action of Herkimer’s militia), St. Leger abandoned the siege on Fort Stanwix causing St. Leger to retreat and contributing to Burgoyne’s eventual surrender at Saratoga on October 17th, 1777.

Expeditions of this magnitude were not possible in the 18th Century without vast quantities of beer (DON”T DRINK THE WATER!).  I will, therefore, be running a full, hands-on, demonstration where you can just watch, taste, hear, and smell the process, this is a full immersion experience!  Step back in time and join the team as we brew the wort for Spruce Beer to be drunk by the Continental Army. Beer was so critical to the health of the army that George Washington ordered his quartermasters in 1775 to provide each man “One quart of Spruce Beer per man, pr diem” in order to keep them fit for service during the siege of Boston.

Herkimer House

At this event, you will learn:

  • The general history of beer and brewing in America and how the practice rose from a basic task performed in nearly every household to a profession which fed the various Taverns and Alehouses of our new nation.
  • The roles of the Colonial Tavern in the social, political, and civic life of early America.
  • Why everyone drank beer all day in order to stay healthy.
  • The difference between the parti-gyyle, the hoffbrau, and the small beer.  Who drank what and why so many styles from a single batch of malt?
  • Why beer was so critical to early life in America and how it fueled the debates that led to revolution
  • How to make beer with only your five senses and some basic field kitchen equipment
  • Beer Styles of the 18th Century and how to adapt historical recipes to work with modern supplies.
  • How beer in the 18th Century was very different than what we call beer today.

During necessary breaks in the process please take some time to take a guided tour of the mansion, see the Erie Canal and maybe even travel the 40 miles General Herkimer’s troops did to Fort Stanwix.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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