June 29, 2016
2 mins read

In a few days, we will celebrate the 240th anniversary of the founding of our nation. As is the case with much of history, beer played a pivotal role in the everyday lives of our Founding Fathers and, some might argue, is the very reason our country began in the particular place that it did.

In 1620, the Mayflower galleon landed at Plymouth Rock – supplies had been depleted on the long journey from England. One settler wrote in his journal, “We could not now take time for further search… our victuals being much spent, especially our beer.” If ever there was a reason to put in to port, it’s being low on beer.

From that point on, beer flourished in the new land. As more settlers arrived, they brought all the skills needed for colonization, not the least of which was the ability to brew. In those early days, beer wasn’t brewed from the same ingredients we use now. Some of the items that went into early American brew were molasses, ginger, spruce, treacle – even potatoes and peas.

By the 1700s, beer production was in high gear. Brewing was a necessary industry in most cities; even our Founding Fathers got in on the action. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson built breweries on their plantations, concocting highly regarded product. Various beers and ales were served in local taverns, where revolutionaries like Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry and James Madison gathered, quaffed and conversed.

Washington so loved beer that, during the Revolutionary War, he decreed each of his troops would receive a quart of beer with daily rations. In his book, Beer in America: The Early Years 1587-1840, historian Gregg Smith writes, “[A]mong Washington’s least recognized but most valuable skills was locating his encampments within reach of a supply of beer.”

Samuel Adams’ father was a minister and a malted barley craftsman, supplying Boston breweries with the vital ingredient for beers.

Jefferson’s beer love ran deep, too. He holed up in Philadelphia’s Indian Queen Tavern, writing much of the Declaration of Independence. Later, after two terms as president, he grew more interested in brewing beer and drew up plans for a complex brewery at his home, Monticello.

“Beer, if drunk with moderation,” Jefferson said, “softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

So we see that beer was as big a part of America’s birth as it is now part of celebrating that birth. If the authors of the Declaration of Independence chose beer as their go-to quaff, who are we to argue? Enjoy Independence Day the way they did – with a nice, cold brew.

Some tried-and-true, red-white-and-blue brews at local retailers include:

Samuel Adams Boston Lager Brewed in Boston, where much of our nation’s creation occurred and named for a signer of the Declaration of Independence. That’s damn patriotic!

Pabst Blue Ribbon Instantly identifiable by its red-white-and-blue cans, and the darling of hipsters everywhere, this brew is a refreshing, budget-friendly addition to your grill-side cooler.

Anchor Liberty Ale First brewed in 1975, this American IPA was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. I can almost hear him shouting, “The British are coming! … wait, is that beer? Whoa, loyal steed!”


Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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