George Washington’s 1757 Beer Recipe

Did you know that George Washington was a beer enthusiast? His beer of choice was the English style Porter. He always had a full supply at his estate on Mount Vernon. Oddly enough, in a notebook that he kept (now at the New York Public Library) he had recorded a recipe for “small beer” in 1757. The exact opposite of his beer of choice, a small beer was considered a weak or inferior beer, what is considered a “light” by today’s standards. However, there is nothing light about this; if you were to make this beer at home, it would have an 11% alcohol content.

Here’s the recipe right from his notebook, written in 1757:

To Make Small Beer

“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.”

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