A History of Home Brewing: Colonial Crafting

Though it has enjoyed a recent run of popularity, the hobby of home brewing has quite a pedigree – one that stretches back over three centuries in America.

New Beer for a New World

Home brewing was once a matter of survival – when the Pilgrims arrived in the 1620s, they built the nation’s first brewery to start setting up their new home. The process of brewing killed the pathogens and bacteria that lurked in regular drinking water, making a safe liquid for the intrepid new-worlders to use for slaking their thirst.

One Nation, Drinking Beer

Home brewing became such an everyday occurrence in colonial times that several of America’s first presidents indulged in their own brews – most notably Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Like tending fields or keeping the pantry stocked, brewing was simply another chore to be done around the house – albeit a delicious one.

Banned Brews

The Prohibition Act of 1919 didn’t simply put an end to bars and public establishments serving up suds, it also dropped the hammer on home brewing efforts. Beer, wine, and other liquors were no longer allowed to be created in the home until 1933, when the 21st Amendment made at least some home-brewed products legal once more. To every beer enthusiast’s sadness, however, a clerical error left off that pair of very important words – “and beer.” This meant that home beer brewers would have to wait until President Carter set things right in 1978 through the passage of H.R. 1377.

Brewing Up the Future

Today, home brewers enjoy unprecedented access to specialty equipment, such as the bottles and kits offered on the web by home brew supplier E.C. Kraus. By using these tools, any beer enthusiast can now create their very own ales, stouts, and lagers in the privacy of their own backyard or basement. Everyone, that is, except for Alabamians – Alabama is the last state in the United States that still considers brewing beer at home an illegal activity. While this is unfortunate for residents of the southern state, the rest of the nation is busily crafting their own beer while simultaneously honoring the efforts of their pilgrim predecessors.