Our Presidents And Their Beer

On this President’s Day, I wanted to explore one of the few similarities that many of our nation’s presidents had: beer! Now I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at this, but beer was beloved by many of this nation’s great presidents.

George Washington is generally considered among our most trusted and well-liked presidents. Why? Maybe because he was our first president, maybe because he couldn’t tell a lie, or was it because he loved beer so much that he even brewed his own? According to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Washington always had a “homemade beverage” (beer) at dinner.

Seriously, after the Revolutionary War in 1785, Washington’s love of beer manifested in the fact that he began to grow hops on his estate, Mount Vernon. This was so he could brew his own batches, as hops is a main ingredient of beer. See, before the war he would’ve purchased beer from England. With the war behind him and presiding over a fledgling country, he decided to buy local. And how much more local could you get if you did it yourself?

If that wasn’t enough evidence of his love for beer, a notebook of his was found from 1750 that contained a recipe for beer on its final page! Only true beer lovers write down their favorite beer recipes.

President Washington and his recipe for beer. (Photo credit: gawker.com)

President Washington and his recipe for beer. (Photo credit: gawker.com)

Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was also very fond of beer–so much so that in his first designs for his plantation, Monticello, there were designs for a beer cellar and space specifically dedicated to brewing beer. Now I love beer, but if I was building a house for myself I don’t know if I’d build a specific cellar just for storing beer. What am I saying? If I could, I definitely would!

When Jefferson retired from a life in politics, he went back to his home at Monticello where he decided to then scientifically produce beer. Once the War of 1812 began, Jefferson started producing beer with an Englishman who was stranded in the country, as he was not allowed to return to England. Also, Jefferson’s neighbor, with whom he was friendly, was also his malt (an important ingredient of beer) producer.

When travelling, Jefferson always had several “necessaries” when he lived abroad. In this list there were two unique items: two ale glasses. Now if you ask my opinion, that’s a special level of beer snobbery. You can always put beer in any old glass, but beer enthusiasts know that to truly enjoy your beer it needs to be served in a proper and corresponding glass. I can tell you from experience most beer enthusiasts won’t pack beer glassware with them, but President Jefferson did!

A beer storage room at Jefferson's Monticello (Photo credit: classroom.monticello.org)

A beer storage room at Jefferson’s Monticello (Photo credit: classroom.monticello.org)

There are many beer drinkers that are fans of President Carter. Even though our 39th President only served one term, his legacy in the beer world is still pleasantly remembered.

In 1979, President Carter deregulated the beer industry, meaning he broke up the hold that the biggest breweries had on this country, thus allowing smaller (or micro or craft) breweries to open up. He did this by signing a law that allowed home brewers to operate.

Another reason beer enthusiasts love President Carter is because of his younger brother, Billy. While Jimmy Carter was president of this country his younger brother Jimmy produced and promoted a beer called Billy Beer. You can now find unopened six-packs as collector items.

President Carter (left) and his brother Billy Carter (right) (Photo credit: beersboro.com)

President Carter (left) and his brother Billy Carter (right) (Photo credit: beersboro.com)

Our current president is the first president to have beer produced while in the White House. There are currently two styles of beer that are being produced: an ale and a porter.

The recipes were originally kept a secret until there were several FOIA requests. Craft beer enthusiasts tend to be a curious bunch. In my experience, if you hear of a delicious beer or find out about one you’d like to try, then you can go out at lengths to try it or find out what’s in it.

You can now find the recipes for these two brews on the White House website.

President Obama tasting a flight of beer. (Photo credit: theguardian.com

President Obama tasting a flight of beer. (Photo credit: theguardian.com

The final president we’ll talk about that loved beer was Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). He’s considered one of this country’s most respected presidents and was known for many things, such as serving the most time as president and his speeches about “…the day that will live in infamy…” or “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

But probably the biggest thing that he’s remembered for is signing the Beer and Wine Revenue Act on March 22, 1933. This allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages under 3.2%. This was huge, as the sale of alcohol was illegal at the time, and by the end of the year the 21st Amendment was signed, which totally repealed Prohibition.

President Roosevelt was a big fan of beer. (Photo credit: opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)

President Roosevelt was a big fan of beer. (Photo credit: opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)

So remember this President’s Day to throw back a beer in honor of your favorite president, because you know they’d probably be doing the same.

Cheers!

 (Slider image: travelingdictionary.com)

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Creator and host of the podcast Beer, Bros & BS, teller of stories, drinker of beers, reader of (comic) books, watcher of sports, devourer of food, mostly entertaining. From Miami. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @thebiglibrarian.

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