March 3, 1634 Ye Olde Watering Hole

Today in History

Despite seemingly inexhaustible supplies of pristine drinking water, colonists to the New World were first and foremost Englishmen, every one of whom understood that drinking water could make you deathly ill. The connection between sanitation and the boiling to make beer was poorly understood at the time, but everyone knew. Those who drank beer and ale didn’t get sick.  The brewhouse was an indispensable priority in every new settlement.

The earliest settlers to Jamestown, Virginia neglected the brewer’s art. Their first pleas for relief from England, included advertisements seeking “two brewers’ to join them.

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When Pilgrims fetched up on the shores of Cape Cod and the later Plimoth colony in 1620, it was not in search of a beach vacation, but because of dwindling beer supplies.

In the early colonial period, tavern keepers would put out an “Ale Stick” or “Ale Stake”, a wooden pole with a bush of barley…

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