George Washington

The Friday Mash (Neptune Edition)

One hundred and seventy years ago today, astronomers Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborated on the discovery of Neptune. Now that Pluto has been demoted, Neptune is the most distant planet in our solar system.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Jacksonville, Florida, where an over-eager liquor control officer charged a 17-year-old girl with the crime of underage possession of alcohol. Her offense? Moving a cup of beer on a beer pong table at a Jaguars tailgate party.

Terrorist attacks in Europe have forced Oktoberfest organizers to beef up security this year, and many would-be attendees are avoiding the celebration out of fear of an attack in Munich.

Rutgers University ended its school-sponsored football tailgate parties after athletics director Pat Hobbs was seen chugging a beer onstage. Drinking on the job is a no-no at RU.

The new season of Shark Tank begins tonight. Leading off are the inventors of Fizzics, an in-home tap that re-creates the mouthfeel and aroma of freshly-poured draft beer.

Long Island’s Blue Point Brewery is serving up history in the form of Colonial Ale. It was made using a recipe written by George Washington in a military journal in 1757.

Are you seeing less pumpkin beer on the shelves this fall? It’s because breweries overproduced it last year and demand for the style fell off. Unseasonably warm weather also hurt sales.

Finally, scientists have figured out why the foam on top keeps your beer from sloshing. The answer is “capillary action”, the same phenomenon that enables paper towel to soak up spilled milk and plants to suck up water from their roots.

George Washington and Beer

Happy Washington’s Birthday, everyone! Those of a certain age remember it being an actual federal holiday, and a day on which people lined up outside stores in hopes of buying heavily marked-down TV sets.

Earlier this month, I ran across an article on Mount Vernon’s website about George Washington and beer. Even though he did little brewing himself, he loved beer, especially if it was strong and hoppy. He bought plenty of it to treat voters when he ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and served it to his guests at Mount Vernon. At first, he bought his beer from both local and English brewers, but bad experiences with imported beer during the 1760s contributed to his growing belief that America should become self-sufficient.

Beer played a role in the American Revolution. General Washington needed large quantities of beer because both his officers and soldiers demanded it. In February 1780, when the Continental Army was holed up in winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey, the beer supply ran out and morale plummeted. Fortunately, Washington’s aide-de-camp was able to buy some, and the sated soldiers were once again determined to see the revolution through.

After the war, Washington followed a strict “buy American” policy. His favorite provider was Robert Hare, Jr., of Philadelphia, whose porter he enjoyed. Unfortunately, Hare’s brewery burned down in 1790. That disaster taught Washington a lesson: hedge against future shortages by hoarding large quantities.

Reviving the Founding Fathers’ Beers

Last Thursday, Bo McMillan wrote a column in All About Beer magazine which featured “presidential beers” that have been revived by modern-day breweries. Perhaps the best-known beers are Yards Brewing Company’s “Ales of the Revolution”. Production began in 1999, after Philadelphia’s City Tavern asked Yards to brew a series of authentic colonial-era beers. Yards not only used the same ingredients as the colonials did, but also brewed the beers using bricked-in kettles and open flame. Ales of the Revolution are available at City Tavern, and at select stores in the Philadelphia area.

Starr Hill Brewing Company, located 30 miles from Monticello, is brewing an ale inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s notes on brewing. Jefferson used hops and grain grown at Monticello to brew his beer; and because barley was scarce, he used corn instead. Monticello Reserve Ale is the historical site’s official beer.

Robbie O’Cain, Starr Hill’s brewer, is working on an even more authentic version of what was served at Monticello when Jefferson lived there. Brewers of that time didn’t understand the fermentation process, and the original Monticello beer was likely a Virginia wild ale brewed from resident microflora.

The Friday Mash (Jam Session Edition)

On this day in 1956, The Million Dollar Quartet—Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash—got together at Sun Studio in Memphis. Years later, tracks from of this impromptu jam session were released as albums in the UK and, later, in the U.S.

And now…The Mash! 

We begin in London, Ontario, where Lewis Kent has become the first Beer Miler competitor to turn pro. The 22-year-old University of Western Ontario student signed a deal with Brooks, a shoe company.

Good news for Star Trek fans. Shmaltz Brewery is releasing the latest beer in the officially-licensed Vulcan Ale series. It’s a red session IPA called The Genesis Effect, and unlike Romulan Ale, it’s legal.

Stung by feminists’ reaction to Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever ad campaign, Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to air woman-friendly spots for its beer during next year’s Super Bowl.

George Washington loved his beer—porter, in particular, and occasionally brewed his own. A notebook Washington kept while he was a 25-year-old officer in the Virginia militia contains a recipe for “small beer”.

Journalist Dina Mishev got over her aversion to beer, at least for the time being, after hitting the Bend Ale Trail. The Trail has 16 breweries, all within walking or biking distance from one another.

In Milwaukee, Pabst Brewing Company’s 126-year-old bottling plant is being converted into apartments for college students. Unfortunately, the amenities won’t include free Blue Ribbon.

Finally, Dogfish Head Brewery claims the distinction of having brewed the hoppiest beer on record. Hoo Lawd, an India pale ale, checks in at 658 International Bittering Units. Most IPAs fall in the 40-60 IBU range.

Best and Worst Beer Presidents

Shortly before the 2008 election (more about that in a moment), beer writer Rick Lyke wrote a column about the best and worst beer presidents. The folks at All About Beer, where the column originally appeared, tweeted it earlier today in honor of Presidents Day.

Heading the “Best Beer Presidents” list is Franklin D. Roosevelt, who campaigned against Prohibition. He’s joined by Jimmy Carter, who signed a bill legalizing homebrewing; James Madison, who promoted beer as a healthier alternative to hard liquor; and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom brewed their own. Barack Obama, who won the 2008 election, revived the tradition of homebrewing in the White House.

Warren G. Harding, who supported Prohibition but flouted the law in private, tops the “Worst Beer Presidents” list. Others on the list include Rutherford B. Hayes, whose wife, “Lemonade Lucy” Hayes, banished alcohol from the White House; George H.W. Bush, who doubled the excise tax on beer; Woodrow Wilson, who was against Prohibition but failed to stop it; and Abraham Lincoln, who signed legislation creating the federal beer tax to raise revenue during the Civil War.

The Friday Mash…on Monday!

I’m back in town after spending some quality time with my pride and fighting a snowstorm. This weather is enough to drive a lion to drink. Speaking of which, I think I need another Lion Stout.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Davis, California, where Professor Arthur Shapiro has a pitcher of beer waiting for you if you collect 2014’s first cabbage white butterfly in the Sacramento area. Be aware that Shapiro himself is looking for this creature.

In England, pubs continue to close despite the popularity of Real Ale. Reasons include cheap carry-out beer, smoking bans, and “pubcos” that profit at the expense of pub operators.

In Egypt, researchers discovered the 3,000-year-old tomb of Khonso-Im-Heb, who apparently was the royal court’s head of beer production. He brewed in honor of Mut, Egypt’s mother-goddess.

The Seattle Seahawks’ winning season was good news for Hilliards Beer. The Seattle micro made more than 10,000 cases of “12th Can,” a beer named after and brewed for the team’s noisy fans.

HuffingtonPost.com has posted a time-lapse video of 400 barrels of Sierra Nevada beer fermenting over a six-day period in one of the brewery’s open fermenters.

In 1866 David Yuengling, the founder’s son, opened a brewery in Richmond, Virginia. The state is trying to add his James River Steam Brewery to the National Register of Historic Places.

Finally, Garrison Brewing Company of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is using discarded Christmas trees to brew spruce beer, which was once so popular that even George Washington brewed it.

The Friday Mash (Public Works Edition)

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7034, which created the Works Progress Administration, the largest New Deal agency. It employed millions of Americans, and almost every community in the country had a park, bridge, or school constructed by WPA employees.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Munster, Indiana, where Chicagoland journalist Scott Bort got up at the crack of dawn to celebrate Dark Lord Day with 6,000 of his friends.

What was it like to visit an English pub circa 1900? There was sawdust on the floor, not much seating, and ginger beer on tap. Martyn Cornell, who blogs at The Zythophile, has more details about turn-of-the-century establishments.

Session #51 opens today. This month’s host is Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin, and his topic is The Great Beer and Cheese-Off. As always, you’re invited to jump into the discussion.

The Sacramento Ballet invited the public for an evening of beer and dancing. The beer–including “Stumble-ina,” a hefeweizen, and “Black Out Swan,” a dark Marzen–were brewed by the dancers themselves.

Samuel and Jesse Edwin Evans have returned to Chicago, where they are building a green brewery on the South Side. If all goes well, the New Chicago Brewing Company will be in operation by Chicago’s 175th anniversary, next March 4.

Flyover country? Hardly. Craft beer has won a following in Iowa, where there are now two dozen breweries and brewpubs.

Finally, the New York Public Library has teamed with the Coney Island Brewing Company to re-create George Washington’s recipe for “small beer”. Written in 1757, the recipe belongs to the library.

A Toast to George Washington

People of a certain age, like Paul, remember when February 22 was celebrated as Washington’s Birthday. That holiday was long ago merged with Lincoln’s Birthday and became the bland, always-on-Monday, holiday that honors all the presidents.

Scott, who blogs at The Brew Club, takes a look at Washington’s Birthday. A bit of trivia: The holiday dates back to 1796, the last year of Washington’s presidency, and is the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen.

But what is Washington doing on a beer blog? Scott explains:

Did you know that George Washington was into beer? Not only was the first President of the United States into beer, but he had one of the largest distilleries in the country! He certainly must have known his stuff regarding the brewing arts as he also grew his own barley, harvested his own ice (for beer cooling) and operated a gristmill.

Another bit of trivia: One of Washington’s favorite cities was Philadelphia, which had a lively tavern culture at the time of the Revolution. Fittingly, the city has recently made its way back into the first tier of American beer towns.

In a few moments we’re going to treat ourselves to a beer. It will be a porter, which was Washington’s favorite style. And we’ll raise a glass to America’s first president.

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