Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jefferson-Inspired Monticello Ale

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation is currently collaborating with Starr Hill Brewery to produce Monticello Reserve Ale, "the official beer of Monticello." The recipe is inspired by what was historically brewed and consumed at Monticello, back when Jefferson himself was stirring the kettle. For the Jeffersons, beer was a crucial part of the family meal, and brewing was an important activity on their plantation. About every two weeks, roughly 15 casks of this low alcohol "table liquor" was being brewed, with his wife Martha overseeing the production. Large scale brewing at Monticello didn't commence until Captain Joseph Miller (a British brewer) was detained during the War of 1812. Miller helped facilitate the production of a beer with a much better shelf-life, focusing on the quality and overall quantity of the beer currently being brewed (eventually about 100 gallons every fall and spring). The recipe was far from uniform, being mostly based on which grains were currently available at the time of brewing (usually some type of combination of either barley, wheat, or corn), with about three-quarters of a pound of hops per bushel of malt.

This lightly hopped, wheat and corn-based brew will be available from Starr Hill Brewery in 750ml bottles beginning February 21st (President's Day), as well as on tap at local restaurants. Additionally, there will be a tasting open to the public (and free!) when the first keg is tapped in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop between noon and 3:00pm. Talk about tapping into some interesting - and tasty - history!

Peace and Love!

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