America is going through some kind of “Small Brewery” boom right now. It seems to me like every time I turn around there is a new private label beer brewery opening up in one neighborhood or another.
How many breweries are there? As I was surfing the Internet, I ran across this little tidbit of information — “At the end of 2017, there were over 6,300 breweries in the United States, including 6,266 craft breweries subdivided into 2,252 brewpubs, 3,812 microbreweries and 202 regional craft breweries.”
A little-discussed fact is that George Washington, President of The United States in The Post-Colonial Era was a well-known and well-regarded brewer of fine beers and whiskies among other things such as being a farmer, plantation owner and President. In 1798 it is reported that Mr. Washington was known to have created at least Eleven-Thousand barrels of whiskey somewhere in or near Virginia or New York. He had his office in New York because New York was the Nation’s Capitol at the time.
While the President is said to have preferred a good Maderia wine, he also couldn’t refuse a good beer either and he had his own special recipe for it. According to tradition and a note that he wrote that is now in some archivist’s possession, his beer recipe included hops, yeast and molasses … among other things.
History tells us that Washington also liked his beer to be strong (The Good Stuff) and, as well as making his own, he also reportedly bought a lot of English beer from well known brewmeisters of the time.
So what was the President’s own brand of whisky like? Here is a description that I found on Google:
“His whiskey consisted of 60% rye, 35% corn and 5% malted barley. The records also indicate that George Washington’s whiskey was distilled at least twice before being sent to market. … Mount Vernon staff used Washington’s original mash bill and traditional 18th-century methods in the production of this rye whiskey.”
Being a double-distilled product, I can only imagine that it must have been awfully darned smooth! I was told that the Washington whiskey brand was an aged rye. Somebody reminded me that rye whiskey is known for it’s pepper-like bite when it is at its best.
It is said that by 1799, General Washington had become one of the largest distillers of fine spirits in the country. Who said that any poor boy from the sticks could become President of The United States? Washington was said to have had a net worth of somewhere in the neighborhood of $525-Million dollars in today’s terms. But some historians say that his wealth was mostly in hard assets and lands and that his cash-in-hand wealth was always low.
George Washington’s whiskey distillery was located at his home (Mt. Vernon) and today there is a reconstructed working replica of the old distillery and they brew a limited amount of spirits even to this day. He made his beer at Mt. Vernon too but he also purchased large quantities from other sources for us on his tables and for guests.