Colonial Room


1607: Jamestown, the first permanent colony in the New World, was settled.

1609: Governor of Virginia advertised in England for two brewers to make the crossing (Whoops! Guess who forgot a critical tradesman?) This was the first advertisement from the colonies in England.

1620: Record of makeshift ale from maize. Brewing was concentrated on homesteads and farms.

1629: John Smith reported in England that the Virginia Colony boasted two brewhouses and produced beer made both of barley malt and a malt made from the native corn.

1754: Colonel George Washington wrote his recipe for “small beer” in Winchester, Virginia, made with molasses.

1758: George Washington wins the election for Frederick County Representative to House of Burgesses after purchasing 46 gallons of beer, along with rum, wine and cider. While waiting for the results, he feared that his campaign manager, James Wood, had not spent enough on beer.

1770: George Washington & Patrick Henry argue for a boycott of English beer imports.

1775: George Washington assigned to lead Continental Army. He promptly orders that every one of his troops would receive a quart of beer with his daily rations. His encampments were located within reach of a beer supply.

1776: Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of Declaration of Independence over cold draft at Indian Queen Tavern in Philadelphia.

George Washington

George Washington, like most Founding Fathers, enjoyed beer and always made sure a decent supply was on hand at all times at his Mt. Vernon estate.  Not only did Washington enjoy good craft beer, he also knew how to make it.  This is a recipe for “small beer” that Washington wrote in one of his notebooks.  This notebook is currently in the collection of the New York Public Library.

To Make Small Beer (George Washington’s Recipe)

  • Take a large sifter full of Bran hops to your taste — Boil these 3 hours.
  • Then strain out 30 gall. into a cooler, put in 3 gallons molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the cooler.
  • Strain the Beer on it while boiling hot let this stand ’til it is little more than blood warm.
  • Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blanket.
  • Let it work in the cooler 24 hours then put it into the cask.
  • Leave the bung open ’til it is almost done working.
  • Bottle it that day/week it was brewed.