What is a “Colonial Beer?”

Reenactors seem to revel in the debate over historical accuracy.  We either passionately focus on authenticity or we bristle at those who do.  Colonial brewers are reenactors and we run the gamut from casual historical entertainers to passionate academic historians.  There is a place for everyone but we need to acknowledge the range of expression …

Beer Recipe: French Alliance “Myrtile” Lambic

“Myrtille” is French for Blueberry. It is popular in some so-called patriotic circles to make snarky comments about France and the French, We call them “Frogs” and complain about rescuing them from their foreign exploits like Vietnam when they hold us to high moral standards on our adventures. The fact, however, is that the United …

Basic Colonial Brewing #9 — Mashing and Decoction

The first major step in brewing beer is to extract the fermentable sugars and starches from the malt kernels.  This process is called mashing (from the German maisch: to mix).  The basic idea is to harness the enzymes already present in the grain in order to digest the complex inert starches into fermentable simple sugars.  …

“Beer” Recipe: John Adams — Breakfast Cider

Apple juice was fermented because before we had refrigeration, it was hard to stop that from happening — apples would just ferment naturally. When English colonists first arrived in North America, they enthusiastically embraced the wide range of wild fruits they found growing, from grapes to berries and of course, begam to make wines and …

Basic Colonial Brewing #8 — Malting the Grain

Before grain can be used to make beer, the starches stored in the kernel must be converted to fermentable sugars.  The grain does this naturally as part of the germination process, so the brewer need only harness this process and then stop it before the grain sprouts to capture the sugars they need for their …

Basic Colonial Brewing #7 — Adapting Historic Recipes to your Brewery

When we find actual recipes from the 18th Century, whether they are for food, beer, or even chemical substances like gunpowder and soap, the recipes are vague and ambiguous by modern sensibilities. These instructions were clearly written for experts.  Below you will find an example of George Washington’s Small Beer recipe, and unless you are …

Beer Recipe: 3/5th Compromise Brown Ale

Are you a Constitutional Originalist? Do you hold that the US Constitution must be followed EXACTLY as the framers intended when they wrote it? Some in our country hold that the provisions in the US Constitution are perfect and complete guidelines for how our government should operate. These people clearly CANNOT READ! “I am not …