America, Countries, Food & Wine

Hoppy 4th July

Hoppy 4th July… let’s celebrate American Independence Day the way the founding fathers would have, with good ale.

Because while we think we can drink we have nothing on Washington, all the Adamses, Franklin and Co.

Colonial Americans drank roughly three times as much as modern Americans, primarily in the form of beer, cider, and whiskey.

And uisce beatha (Gaelic for water of life) is probably what the Spirit of 76 was all about.

Our old friends at Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon, have already been on.

And they’ve been showing off their wares with a new product for Independence Day.

And they remind us (OK, we didn’t know) that they begin their process by brewing an artisanal American Ale from scratch.

They use locally malted barley, ale yeast, and a slow, low temperature fermentation.

We love our American whiskies and we will return to them in due cours.

But to make the tortured pun in the title of today’s blog work it’s all about the beer on today’s Independence Day.

Drunken Sam

A bucket of booze: In boozy Boston

Sam Adams: Now the great Bostonian rabble-rouser spent so much time swigging ale in radical public houses that his enemies nicknamed him Sam the Publican.

Sam, of course, took it as a badge of honour, and the Bostonians repaid him by putting his badge on their beers.

Now there is no one Sam in Boston.

And you will be able to digest a range of his ales in the Samuel Adams Tap Rroom next to Faneuil Hall in Old Boston.

As well as Tap room merch, and I am already seeking out where they might sell Old Fezziwig for my can holder I bought there recently. 

There’s also Oktoberfest (the next beer date on my calendar).

And St Paddy’s Day as well as any number of other reasons to swill.

Sam’s namesake, John, the first vice-president, and a future president is cited in a letter to his wife during the days of British overtaxation.

He wrote: ‘I am getting nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone.”

He died at 90 of old age.

By George

Hail to the Chief: Issy, George, and Jim

George Washington: Now America’s first president and its saviour on the battlefield was more of a wine and whiskey man than beer.

But we dare say he imbibed ale as a chaser.

Washington even boasted one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country at Mount Vernon.

And it produced 11,000 gallons in 1799, the year he died.

Mount Vernon in Virginia even boasts a small beer recipe the Great Man wrote up.
And he had produced for his soldiers during the French and Indian War during the 1750s.
And that’s a blend the Virginians still swear by today.
They put it on for their visitors with their Battlefields and Brews tour in Northern Virginia.
And I, of course, road tested it for you while out there.

Revere for the beer

Can I sign up? Outside the Green Dragon Tavern

Paul Revere: And probably because he was talking to children, although they drank too, Longfellow played down how boozy Revere’s ride was.

But it was effectively a pub crawl, starting out from the Green Dragon Tavern, a version of which exists to this day.

Revere isn’t just immortalised in poetry.

He’s also commemorated in pewter with Liberty Ale, named for him.

First brewed on 18th April 1975, it celebrates the 200th anniversary of his Midnight Ride.

The tasting notes tell us it is brewed as a single hop beer, Cascade, with 2-Row pale malt and a top fermenting yeast.

Franklin my dear

A Bell’s: Whiskey or Beer in Philly

Benjamin Franklin: Now not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But Ben likely didn’t say ‘beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.’

Instead his letter to a French noble waxed lyrical about wine.

That was his favoured tipple. But it got lost in the translation and is now the accepted version.

A brewer and distiller in his own right, Ben gave us too The Drinker’s Dictionary.

It has over 200 euphemisms for getting tore up including Piss’d in the Brook, Wamble Crop’d, and Been too free with Sir John Strawberry.

Although a proud Bostonian, he came to be associated more with Philadelphia which he made his home.

A good choice as they’re blue-collared people who love their sport and know Sir John Strawberry only too well.

Now we’re not sure if it still exists but our gurgling googling turned this up

A Three Horshoes pub in Northamptonshire in the English midlands with a brewery with his name.

There is a connection you see with Franklin’s Uncle Thomas and a forge… happy horshoeing.

Martin Van Boozen

Drink up: But Martin Van Buren had a boozy Presidency

Martin Van Buren: And one from left field here.

The eighth President was said to have been born on the floor of his father’s tavern and got a taste of ale there.

The New Yorker is quoted as saying: “If you’re asking if I’d rather be president or not get drunk I think you damn well know the answer to that.”

And that is probably among the reasons he didn’t get re-elected.

Worth noting that the Founding Fathers all drank.

And most of the 45 presidents, bar George W Bush and Donald Trump…

And the latter at least could probably do with a pint just to calm him down.

Rewind too now to the drafting of the US Constitution and the 55 signers celebrated the birth of the fledgling nation with a full-bore blowout.

They put away 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight bottles of whiskey (phew)

Twenty-two bottles of port, eight bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

The punch was said to be large enough that one observer said: ‘ducks could swim in them.’

So cheers, and a Hoppy 4th of July to y’all.





America, Countries

Boston Tepee Party

If you’re going to throw the King’s best tea into the harbour you’d better disguise yourself which is why this act of sabotage was more like a Boston Tepee Party.

The patriots who hurled the crates of best leaf into the New England bay were we know now patriots.

But to the 55-strong British Crown crew on the three boats they looked like Indians.

The parties who file through the Boston Tea Party Museum would, of course, be strange to an 18th-century Bostonian.

But such is the attention to detail of the museum that our guides look, and sound, as if they’ve walked off the pages of history.

Oyez, oyez

We assemble, or are called oh-ye, oh-ye style, to a gathering in the Meeting House to discuss the tea tax imposed on Bostonians.

Historians, of which I am one, will recognise the speaker at the lectern as Samuel Adams.

While anybody who has spent any time in Boston will recognise him from his statue in the old town outside Faneuil Hall.

In the tap room and in his beer which you’ll see in our supermarkets now.

Say it again, Sam

Sink or swim: A conspirator

King George III would turn in his grave as he wanted to haul Sam’s treasonous hide over to England for his part in the destruction too.

He was after me too as it transpires… me a Scot Son of Liberty, James Swan, An insider in the tea industry.

Or at least it says so on the card, Mrs Storey, the feisty wife of a well-known physician, informs me.

She talks us through how we should respond to Sam’s oratory.

The usual cheering, stamping of feet and booing and hissing.

But also putting our thumbs to our noses and waving the other fingers at the object of our displeasure.

Fieing and blinding

While shouting Fie (pronounced fee).

All quite sedate and a much tamer f-word you might think but this could get you killed in 1774.

Liquored up though on rum punch shared in bowls down at the Green Dragon Tavern, near Quincy Market, the patriots are fired up.

Which might come as a surprise to a modern-day audience but Caribbean rum was popular then.

And the Crown had preceded the hated tea tax with a molasses tax, molasses being the sugar cane extract used for our fave drink.

The Boston Tea Party will give you a fuller, interactive and family-friendly reenactment of the Boston Tea Party.

All aboard

On the right side: With the rebels

You’ll board a boat, the Eleanor, and even get the chance to throw a crate over, though obviously it’s on a rope so won’t pollute the harbour.

While they also put on an entertaining film on Boston’s part in the Revolution.

And Adams and George III duke it out.

As they burst out of their framed pictures through that tech wizardry beloved of Harry Potter.

You’ll also get the chance to finish things off by sampling all five of the East Indian teas which were thrown into the harbour.

All without milk or sugar of course and all pretty insipid it must be said.

And which was another good reason to throw it into the water.

I’ll have a Sam

Taste of Boston: The five teas

Better head off to Samuel Adams’ Tap Room (he was a brewer).

Or of you have the good fortune to be staying at the Envoy Hotel just five minutes across the bridge.

As the last stop on your mini-New England tour sponsored by Aer Lingus and Amtrak.

You can retreat to your room and drink a can or two of his diverse range of craft beers.

Huzzah, as they say in these parts, at least in recreated 1774 Boston. For the Boston Tepee Party.