Alcohol in America

Alcohol was a vital part of colonial life from the earliest establishment of the Dutch and English colonies. One observer to the region commented, They all drink here, from the moment they are able to lick a spoon, and the remark was apt. In the seventeenth century especially, alcohol was considered safer than water, and it was often thought to aid in digestion, ward off fever and chills, and mend broken bones. This tradition was carried over from the Old World to the New, but the American colonists adapted and developed new drinking traditions and novel ingredients of their own. From the beginning, alcohol was fundamentally integrated into the colonial experience. Beer, Cider, and Wine When the Dutch founded the settlement at New Amsterdam in 1625, one of the first buildings erected was a brewery. The English settlers who followed likewise had a fondness for beer, and local brewing began as soon as the colonists were ashore. The most popular brew was a dark malt made of barley and flavored with hops, and containing about 6 percent alcohol (eventually this evolved into the modern porter and stout). In addition to the licensed breweries, colonial wives incorporated brewing into their household routines, and beer became a dietary staple. For those who could afford it, imported beer from the Old World was also available. Although brewers used traditional ingredients when they could, hops and malt from Europe were not always available, especially in the settlements away from the coast. Accordingly, the provincials used whatever local substitutes were handy, including corn, pumpkins, parsnips, and walnuts. Local governments attempted to regulate quality but could do little with regard to the home brews. Still, some entrepreneurs, such as Connecticut governor John Winthrop, Jr., were successful enough to receive international recognition. After creating a highly palatable beer from Indian corn, Winthrop was elected to the esteemed Royal Society of London in 1662, one of the highest scientific honors available. In the following century, such famous personages as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all dabbled in brewing and/or distilling. Hard cider, brewed from apples, also became popular, especially in the Northern colonies, where orchards planted from European seeds flourished in the hospitable climate. Naturally fermented to about 7 percent alcohol, cider ultimately rivaled beer in popularity. By the early 1700s, and likely much earlier, Anglo-Americans were distilling their cider into potent applejack, with a particularly loyal following in the Mid-Atlantic colonies. Jersey lightning was fit for serious drinkers only, however, and too much imbibing could bring on a condition known as apple palsy. Though popular in the Old World, wine was available in the English colonies only to upper-class citizens who could afford to import it. Unlike the Spanish and French, who planted vines in their New World possessions, the English had no early viticulture to speak of. In Virginia, a promising attempt by French Huguenots to establish vineyards ended when the growers switched to tobacco and tore out the vines. Thus, the wines served in the English colonies were generally imported at considerable expense from Europe and the Madeira islands, and among the masses, wine never became as popular a beverage as beer or cider. These are the places in America where alcohol is still banned How Alcohol Has Steered American History The Fix – Page 0 Why America should vote yes for cannabis PRAGUE POT

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