Beer Recipe — Privateer Abby Triple Ale

In the summer of 1775, George Washington and the fledgling Continental Army was unable to effectively lay siege to British-occupied Boston because the Royal Navy had a firm command of the sea-lanes and the harbor.  All George Washington could do was observe the flow of enemy supplies into Boston harbor and wondered if intercepting a …

Beer Recipe: Battle of the Kegs — British Brown Ale

With my focus on 18th Century brewing, don’t generally brew extract beers any more but this was the proverbial deal I could not refuse — FREE MALT. You see there was this guy who was cleaning out his homebrew supplies. I learned about him because I was in the market for an old fashion alcohol …

Basic Colonial Brewing #18 — Proof your Whiskey, Sir

When it comes to arcane historical terms for spirits and other alcohol, proof is one of the frustrating ones.  In our modern vernacular, with the blessing of modern analytical chemistry as support, we simply think of “proof” as two times the alcohol by volume (ABV).  But why is this measure even a thing?  After all, …

Basic Colonial Brewing #17 — Make an 18th Century Toast

 “To drink at a table without drinking to the health of someone special, should be considered drinking on the sly, and as an act of incivility.” Throughout history, toasting began after a meal and could last for hours.  Toasts would solidify the bonds of groups, not only through the competitive element of drinking, but by …

Basic Colonial Brewing #16 — Making Sense of the Beer Menu

I am going to deviate from my normal focus on the 18th Century to discuss some brewing terminology that seems to be confusing people in craft brew pubs.  The other day, my wife and I visited a brewery and her questions about the beer menu prompted me to clarify some jargon that are too often …

Beer Recipe: Flippen Pompkin Ale

When the British imposed the Stamp Act of 1765, John Hancock helped lead the opposition in urging a boycott of British-made goods. Far from an act of patriotism, Hancock, a smuggler of tea, rum, and wine, used these boycotts earn obscene profits. But the boycotts did impact the Crown and eventually lead to the repeal …

Basic Colonial Brewing #15 — Necessary Anachronisms in Colonial Brewing

One question I frequently get asked at reenactments is “is that the really the way beer was made in the 1770’s?”  For the most part, the answer is “yes” but there are some very necessary exceptions.  Not all “Colonial Beers” are good and some of the methods used in the 18th Century were unsafe by …

Beer Recipe: Nightingale on a Stone Wall

The British army punished its soldiers mercilessly. The purpose was to inspire terror by setting an example. Soldiers were frequently whipped leading to the derisive moniker “bloody backs” by which Redcoat soldiers were frequently known. The most common offence was drunkenness, which could merit 100 lashes. The sentence was carried out in front of the …

The Yeast Ring

This year, I am adding a somewhat archaic bit of brewing equipment to the gear brought out by the Regimental Brewmiester.  The yeast ring or gjarkrans is a piece of traditional brewing gear from medieval Sweden and Denmark.  This tool resembles a complicated wreath of small pieces of whittled wood.  Yeast harvested from one batch …

Beer Recipe: Common Sense Cherry Pils

Although little used today, pamphlets were an important medium for the spread of ideas in the 16th through 19th centuries. Before the era of radio communication and television, when you wished to convey a message to a large audience, you published it. Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” not only advocates independence but explains how the …