“Beer is proof that God loves us.” – Benjamin Franklin
In the past six years, President Barack Obama has been brewing his own beer; during his spare time of course! The White House Honey Ale has been served at multiple gatherings. President Obama may love beer, but he is not the only president to brew his own. In honor of Presidents’ Day, let’s look back on the most powerful men in the free world; what better way to get to know them than to know their drink of choice.
Presidents’ Day is surprisingly the incorrect name for the holiday. In honor of the first president of the United States, congress exercised an act to coin George Washington’s birthday a federal holiday on February 22nd. During the 1950s, there were multiple movements to broaden the holiday to include Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and honor all of our fearless leaders. As a response, Congress merged this idea with Washington’s birthday and solidified the holiday to be on the third Monday in February, but did not officially change the holiday’s name. The irony of the date adjustment makes it so we will never celebrate Washington’s Birthday on his actual birthday.
With a stroke of luck, we can properly respect the man by enjoying the beer recipe he left behind. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington found time to write in detail to one of his commanding officers his secret recipe for his strong porter. Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia reincarnated Washington’s brew in their rendition called George Washington’s Tavern Porter. Being of a 6’4” stature and weighing over 225 pounds, it can be assumed colonials made way for Washington. This robust porter embodies dark malts and molasses and is not for the weak of heart; much like George Washington himself.
After resignation, Washington established the largest distillery in the country. Now fully restored, the distillery is open to the public at Washington’s Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia where people can see how the whiskey and beer is made.
Although he was never a president, Benjamin Franklin was the first presidential nominee for the United States. Even Washington himself found the man suitable for the job. Franklin, however, believed himself to have lived a full live and was too old for the job. He felt more comfortable being a respected counselor. This way, he could retire and fly kites and drink beer! In a number of his journals, Franklin articulated about his spiced ale that called for barley, molasses, and essence of spruce evergreen. Yards added this recipe to their Ales of the Revolution along with George Washington’s Tavern Porter, and called it Poor Richard’s Tavern Spice.
Another addition to Yards’ Ales of the Revolution is President Thomas Jefferson’s mastery. After his presidency, Jefferson retired to his plantation home. The original design for the plantation left space for a brewery and beer storage. Being a man of science, Jefferson treated his brewing as an experiment and created his ideal flavorings. The Tavern Ale is a strong golden ale influenced with essence of honey flavoring, complimentary of rye, wheat and maize grain. All together the ingredients are complex, with simple flavoring.
Of course there are other presidents who have contributed to the American’s love of beer. In December 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the 21st Amendment, thereby abolishing the Volstead Act, also known as Prohibition. The next day, as a thank you, DG Yuengling and Son sent Roosevelt barrels of the great American lager. Another president we can thank is Jimmy Carter who convinced Congress to make home brewing legal again in 1979. This act made it possible for the craft beer franchise to soar in the nation.
Presidents’ Day is a day to celebrate all the great presidents and their achievements. So after you hit big car sales, go to the historic Yankee Doodle Tap Room and grab a $3 bottle of the Yards Ales or Revolution and toast to all the beer-loving leaders of America.