An all American tradition is alive and well at Mudshark Brewery and Public House in picturesque Lake Havasu City, Arizona. From our award winning Buzz Honey Lager to Full Moon and Scorpion Amber each of our craft beers is a direct link to a tradition that dates to Colonial America.
Beer was not only a popular beverage, in many instances it was also also viewed as a healthy alternative for the early colonists. They had learned from their Native American neighbors that drinking water could be dangerous. And so beer could be a safer and healthier alternative.
The boiling process of making beer killed most of the harmful bacteria and parasites that lurked in the water sources. Plus, beer was nutritious, filling, and refreshing. Who wouldn’t want to drink it?
The first colonists brought with them some equipment and ingredients to brew their own beer, but they soon encountered some challenges in the strange new land. Barley, a popular grain for making beer, was scarce and expensive in the colonies. The climate and soil in many of the colonies were not ideal for growing. Importing it from England was costly and unreliable.
So, the colonists had to improvise and use other grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, corn, and even rice. They also experimented with different flavorings, such as molasses, sassafras, spruce, pumpkin, and even persimmon.
The result was a variety of unique beers, just as with Mudshark Brewery and Public House , that were unique to colonial America. Some were light and refreshing, like the small batch, low alcohol content beer that was brewed at home and consumed by everyone in the family.
Others were strong and potent, like the ale that was produced by commercial breweries and taverns. Some were sweet and spicy, like the porter that was flavored with molasses and ginger. And some were sour, like the beer that was aged in wooden barrels and inoculated with wild yeast.
Beer was more than just a drink in colonial America. It was also a social lubricant, a political symbol, and a cultural expression. Beer was served at every occasion, from weddings to funerals, from town meetings to court sessions. Beer was also a way of showing loyalty or defiance to the British crown. Some colonists boycotted British beer and brewed their own patriotic ale with American ingredients. Others smuggled British beer and enjoyed it as a sign of resistance.
Beer was also a way of showcasing a brewers skills and talents. Brewing was considered an art and a science, and many colonists took pride in their craft.
Surprisngly, a few of the most famous brewers in colonial America were women, who were valued for their expertise and experience. In fact, some women were recruited from England specifically for their brewing abilities. They were known as “brewster brides” or “beeresses”, and they often married well and became influential members of their communities.
As you can see, beer played a vital role in colonial America. It shaped the economy, society, politics, and culture of the new nation. It also gave rise to a rich and diverse tradition of brewing that continues to this day. So, next time you sip a cold one at Mudshark Brewery and Public House, remember to toast to the pioneers who made it possible. Cheers!
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America.