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.
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.
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.
Revere for the beer
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
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.
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
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.