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Old 12-26-2008, 06:03 PM   #1
Jan 2007
Posts: 68

I found a recipe for an ale that was brewed by Thomas Jefferson.

8 lbs pale malt
4 lbs wheat
1 lb molasses

1 1/2 oz east kent goldings 60 min
1/2 oz east kent goldings 10 minutes
american ale yeast

Anyone ever brew something like this? Any comments as to what this might taste like? I might give this one a go, but am surprised to see so much wheat, and the molasses.

Interested in anyone's thoughts.

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Old 12-26-2008, 06:05 PM   #2
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Sep 2007
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Where did you find a TJ recipe?
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Old 12-26-2008, 06:37 PM   #3
Dec 2008
Posts: 71

I've seen recipes like this floating around too. I saw one from (apparently) George Washington that included mostly molasses and was a little more ... rustic (?) than the one you have. I'm curious if anyone's tried these and had them come out decent.

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Old 12-26-2008, 06:41 PM   #4
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Dec 2007
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Mollasses was considered a brewing adjunct in colonial times, evidently...It is an ingredient in poor richard's ale as well, which is based on tidbits found in Franklins diaries and poor richard's almanac. It's not a true historical recipe, but an EXTRAPOLATION of what a colonial recipe would be...I have a feeling it is the same thing with the Jefferson Recipe...not a true recipe from his home brewery, but an extrapolation based on his notes and entries...but I could be wrong.

I figured there would be a recipe here, Beer - Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

That's why I wonder if it's a true recipe, or and idea of's still cool either way. I love historical brewing stuff.

I just brewed up a batch of Poor Richard's ale...Can't tell you anything about it, I only bottled it a week ago...and I'm not a beer pedaphile.
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Old 12-26-2008, 06:57 PM   #5
Jan 2007
Posts: 68

I saw the recipe in one of my beer books which are home now. I am at work. I don't recall the name of it, but will post later. There was also a recipe based on an ale that was server at harvard in 1694. Both recipes seem intriguing.

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Old 12-26-2008, 07:47 PM   #6
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Nov 2007
Christiansted, St Croix, USVI, US Virgin Islands
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Tag post.

I'd like those sources, too, please!

Washington's molasses 'porter' dates from his time being whupped by the French (1750s) near Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Here is the receipt:

To Make Small Beer

Take a large Siffer full of Bran Hops to your Taste. Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall into a cooler put in 3 Gall Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & Stain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yest if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank't & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask -- leave the bung open till it is almost don Working -- Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed."

I have brewed this. It is, without exaggeration, perfectly foul. Even after aging for six months, it was utterly revolting. I made the mistake of brewing five gallons of it (not the original receipt, but redacted for five gallons); I had to dump all but the sample bottles.

I don't think the recipe the OP posted is at all correct, either; it's a modern idea of what a Colonial beer might have been.

In the first place, it's written like a modern homebrew recipe, with modern ingredients.

In the second place, Jefferson didn't share his receipt or procedure in writing. In fact, the link Revvy posted says:

"I have no reciept [sic] for brewing," Jefferson replied, "and I much doubt the operations of malting and brewing could be successfully performed from a reciept. If it could, Combrune's book on the subject would teach the best processes: and perhaps might guide to ultimate success with the sacrifice of 2. or 3. trials. . . . We are now finishing our spring brewing. If you have a capable servt. and he were to attend our fall brewing, so as to get an idea of the manual operation, Combrune's book with a little of your own attention in the beginning might qualify him."

I have copies of Combrune in PDF (30MB) and Text (<0.5MB) should anyone want them. The PDF is sufficient to print a facsimile of the original; the TXT file has some OCR errors in it.

Whee! Historical brewing!

Fort Christian Brewpub
St Croix, US Virgin Islands

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Old 12-26-2008, 07:54 PM   #7
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Jul 2007
Omaha, NE
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I believe the recipe is from The Homebrewer's Recipe Guide by Patrick Higgins, Maura Kate Kilgor, and Paul Hertlein.

There is a lot of cool recipes and tips in the book along with one supposedly one used by Geo Washington.

I can't remember if I've actually used any recipes yet but I have several bookmarked. You know how it is; too many recipes too little time.
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:19 PM   #8
Jan 2007
Posts: 68

Correct. It is from the Homebrewers Recipe Guide.

Here is the exact recipe:

6 lbs Pale 2 row
4 lbs Malted Wheat
1 lb Molasses
1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings (60 min)
1 oz Kent Goldings (10 min)
American Ale Yeast

Beersmith comes up with:
Original Gravity 1.057
Final Gravity 1.014
IBU's 29.3
Color 10.9

So, to me, it sounds interesting. Perhaps a brew to enjoy on the 4th of July. Just want to make sure that the molasses flavor comes through too much.

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Old 12-26-2008, 11:07 PM   #9
Feb 2007
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You will for sure taste the molasses in that recipe, a pound of that stuff would add a lot of color and flavor to the beer. I would go with about half that if you are not looking for a strong flavor off of it.

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Old 12-26-2008, 11:38 PM   #10
Jul 2008
Columbus, OH
Posts: 110
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Here is Radical Brewing's interpretation: (Plz feel free to delete if this is a copyright issue)

Plug Nickel - Thomas Jefferson's Pale Ale
Yield: 5 gallons
Gravity: 1.069 (16.5 P)
Alcohol/vol: 5.2-6.2%
Color: Pale amber
Bitterness: 44 IBU
Yeast: English ale
Maturation: 6-8 weeks

9 lb pale ale malt
2 lb Indian corn, ground to grits and precooked
1 lb biscuit/amber malt

Infusion mash at 154 for 60 min

2.0 oz US Fuggle 60 min
1.5 oz US Fuggle 10 min

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