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George Washington: Home Brewer

According to historians, George Washington was a home brewer on his Mount Vernon estate.  Records indicate that Washington loved English Porters and always had some on hand.  Though that fact has been established, it was his “small beer” recipe that is famous, as it is the only one that he wrote down in one of his notebooks.  Some experts think “small beer” may have been similar to a Porter, while others believe it would have been a weird beer-mead concoction.  Whatever style it was, his notebook which contains the original recipe hand-written by Washington is kept at the New York Public Library .  Here it is for your enjoyment:

To Make Small Beer

Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste.–Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask–leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working–Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.


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