Seems like people have been fussy about beer long before that one ad that Big Brewer ran during the annual Big Football Competition would lead you to believe. Take our third president, Thomas Jefferson, for example. He was a brewer, and apparently a fussy one at that. Now, Beer Sofa wasn’t around back in the early 1800’s to verify this, so we’re using some info that was found by using Founders Online, a search engine and online directory from the National Archives.
We’re using Thomas Jefferson as an example because it’s his birthday. But, there are plenty of presidents who have brewed beer. Even our current Prez has beer made in the White House. You can get the recipes here.
Here is an excerpt from a letter Jefferson wrote to his neighbor, and malt supplier, William Meriwether, on September 17, 1813:
"I lent you some time ago the London & Country brewer and Combrune's book on the same subject. We are this day beginning under the directions of Capt. Millar, the business of brewing malt liquors, and if these books are no longer useful to you I will thank you for them, as we may perhaps be able to derive some information from them.”
To paraphrase: “Give back my books, you mooch.” It’s cool that Jefferson’s neighbor was also his malt supplier. Jefferson also used local hops. Back then, everything everyone used was “locally sourced.” There were drawings found for a brewery and beer cellar on the property at Monticello, but it is unclear whether or not they were actually built.
Jefferson wrote in his letters that he had no written beer recipes. However, that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about how he may have brewed. You can check out the recipes from Real Homebrew here.
Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson. You may be immortalized on the $2 bill, but we will always remember you as the man who advocated for using a bushel of malt for every eight or ten gallons of strong beer, because, as you put it: "public breweries" produce fifteen gallons from every bushel, which "makes their liquor meager and often vapid." Thomas jefferson | third president, fussy beer guy.
Long live fussy.
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