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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Beer

Over the last couple of weeks it seems that every wine retailer and blog has given their Thanksgiving wine advice. So instead, we are going to impart our beer suggestion for the holiday - particular since the Pilgrims mostly likely consumed it during their feast. When the 100+ passengers departed, their cargo included barrels and barrels of precious beer. During these voyages, water spoiled quickly, so each passenger - men, women, and children - received a ration of beer each day. Not only did the beer remain bacterial free, but it was also a major source of carbohydrates. The responsibility of maintaining the integrity of the barrels fell to John Alden, a cooper and carpenter, who the pilgrims hired to repair the Mayflower in Southampton before their voyage west. After their 60 days at sea, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth partially because their supply of beer was dangerously low. Another reason was the site included a brook containing "sweet" and clean water. Legend says that Alden was actually the first passenger to set foot in the new land. History also says that Alden was a signer of the Mayflower Compact, an assistant to the governor, and with Priscilla Mullins, the third couple married in the Plymouth colony. Alden was also a survivor. When he passed away in 1687, he was the last male survivor of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and with the exception of Mary Allerton, was the last survivor of the Mayflower's original passengers.

Three hundred and thirty years after his death, the Mayflower Brewing Company began operating in Plymouth using the same source of water that the Pilgrims found "sweet" and clean. In fact, the founder of this craft brewery, Drew Brosseau, claims that the soft water is ideal for brewing "lighter-colored and milder beers". Oh yea, before I forget, Drew Brosseau is also the tenth great grandson of John Alden. He started home brewing beer years ago and after retiring, parleyed this experience into creating the brewery. Based on this heritage, locating in Plymouth was an obvious choice as was brewing English styled ales: a Pale Ale, a Golden Ale, an IPA, and a Porter. The Mayflower Golden Ale is probably the most widely appealing style, but the most appropriate beer would be the Mayflower IPA. This brew mostly likely resembles the actual beer drank on the Mayflower since brewers added extra hops to keep beer fresh for the long ocean voyages. It would be interesting if the same folks who decipher the recipes for the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery ancient beers could do the same for the Pilgrim's beer. In the meantime the Mayflower IPA is a close alternative. And after dinner, we recommend their Porter - particularly if temperatures remain near 30 degrees.

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