Nov 22, 2013

Giving thanks for (and with) beer....

The following post appeared in the Four Peaks Brewing's monthly "Brewsletter". If you don't get the letter, you can sign up for it here.... (go to the very bottom of their home page and enter your email address). I want to thank Four Peaks for the opportunity to share this with you guys....enjoy.
(you can view the entire "brewsletter" by clicking here.....)

Giving thanks for (and with) Beer!

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I thought we could take a minute to give thanks for what else, but beer. Beer and Thanksgiving have gone together since, well, since the very beginnings of the holiday. I am sure most of us fans of beer have been asked by more then one friend, on far more then one occasion "did you know the pilgrims stopped in Plymouth because they were out of beer?"' Common knowledge thanks in part to Jim Koch and his Sam Adams TV commercial a few years back. This is, however, at least in part very true. It was pilgrim William Bradford that wrote in his journal ""We could not now take much time for further search, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer," back in 1620, while anchored off Cape Cod Massachusetts, premature of their planned destination of Virginia. While it may not be the only reason they stopped there, it obviously played a role. Beer was a vital component to sea travel back then. It did not spoil as fast as water did, and it was not nearly as intoxicating as rum was, so it was the preferred means of hydration on board sea going vessels of the day.

So, beer did play a part if where the Pilgrims landed, it also played a part in their every day life there as well. In fact, John Alden, one of the founders of the Plymouth colony, and signer of the Mayflower Compact, was in fact a cooper that made beer barrels. British law at the time required that "whosoever shall carry beer beyond the sea," had to bring along someone who could repair and craft replacement beer barrels.

Plymouth Rock
Once setting foot on dry land by Plymouth Rock, where what is now Plymouth Mass, one of the first priorities for the settlers (aside from simply just staying alive) was to establish a brew house where they could make their beer. Using everything from local native corn to pine needles, whatever they could find to make it, I am sure the Pilgrims first few batches weren't very close to what we've come to enjoy today however (and maybe even worse then my first few attempts at home brew). In the first year, the early settlers were not real successful at much of anything, including making beer. Until, as luck would have it, early in their first spring in the new world, their first contact was made with what was left of the native population of the area (most were killed by small pox, courtesy of earlier explorers and fisherman to the area). It was on March 16, 1621, a native  survivor walked out of the woods and into their settlement, and much to their surprise I am sure, said to them "Welcome, English. I am Samoset. Do you have beer?" (coincidently, Samoset learned to speak English from English fisherman that stopped to fish around the banks of Monhegan Island, off the coast of Maine, an island I use to spend my summers on back in college).

So you see, beer flows deep in the veins of this American tradition. So it makes sense that we should enjoy beer on it, so why wouldn't we, why shouldn't we? Besides, here in Arizona, us beer lovers certainly have a lot to be thankful for. It wasn't long ago, when I remember Four Peaks being a small pub, and pretty much the only local option for those of us looking for finer beer options. Well, now, Four Peaks isn't exactly "small" anymore and there is a rapidly growing beer scene and culture here in the valley, as well as the entire state that we should all be proud of, and especially this time of year, thankful for. Seems hardly a week goes by these days when we aren't hearing about a new brewery opening here, or another brewery expanding there. It's a great time to be a  fan of beer, so lets not take it for granted. Let us raise a local glass, and toast not only to the wonderful brewers and brewery workers bringing us our favorite beers today, let us toast to those early settlers (and brewers) that helped us get it all started, it couldn't have been easy, they deserve it!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

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