When the Mayflower was being stocked for the long journey to the New World, beer was among the highly valued stores put aboard.  This week on Beer Notes, we are discussing beer on the Mayflower and in the early colonies.

Water was the last thing that anybody wanted to drink because it carried the risk of disease.  Water was boiled during the beer making process and thus rendered the beverage much safer. 

The Mayflower’s Captain, rationed 1 gallon of beer to each man and woman on the ship.  Even some children enjoyed beer rations.

They Mayflower took 66 days to cross the ocean.  They set sail for Virginia, but were blown off course.  Captain Jones needed to conserve enough beer for the return trip so he recommended the ship land near Plymouth and not push for Virginia.  Willam Bradford, the ship’s diarist, complained that the passengers “were hastened ashore and made to drink water, that the seamen might have more beer.”

After establishing a settlement, the colonists started brewing beer.  Because barley crops often failed and importing malt was prohibitively expensive, some brewers were using ingredients more common here.  Corn was a staple in early American beers and “the meat of the pumpkin took the place of malt entirely” in some beers produced in the mid 1600s 

Shore Craft Beer wishes all settlers in this New World, a very Hoppy Thanksgiving.  May beer be part of your celebration as it has been for hundreds of years!

Jessica Bauer
Author: Jessica Bauer

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