Virginia wild ale

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.

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