Did the Pilgrims Have Beer?

Rock and Sushi Rolls at Rock ‘n’ Roll Sushi
October 22, 2016
Logo for Fringe Salon
Fringe Salon Joins Campus No. 805
November 30, 2016

Spending two months in a crowded, damp, dark ship and dealing with seasickness, bad weather, and limited rations doesn’t exactly sound like the most enjoyable trip. However, that is what the Pilgrims had to put up with in the autumn of 1620 on their journey to the New World. Tensions were probably reaching their boiling point around November 11, 1620, and to make matters worse, they were running out of beer! While a large part of the reason the Pilgrims dropped anchor well north of their intended harbor that November was due to strong sea winds, a dwindling beer supply played a role, too!

In the 1700s, beer was considered safer to drink than water, because many of the microorganisms that make people sick can’t survive in alcoholic beverages. For this reason, beer and wine were carried on ships, like the Mayflower, for long voyages. The men, women, and many children aboard the Mayflower were rationed about a gallon of beer per day for the journey, which would have been enough if everything had gone to plan. If you’ve ever tried to travel with a large group, however, you know that things almost never go to plan. After having to turn back twice, deal with strong sea weather, and being blown off course, the rations on board the Mayflower were stressed. Although the beer ration wasn’t completely gone, the capitan was worried about having enough for his sailors on the return trip.

So if beer was so important, was there beer at the first Thanksgiving dinner? Probably not, unfortunately. Any beer brought from England had almost certainly run out, and the New England climate isn’t conducive to easily growing the ingredients for beer. If the Pilgrims had managed to brew and age any beer with the barley they had grown, it wasn’t much. They most likely just drank water.

This Thanksgiving, you don’t have to worry about running out of beer on Campus because Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer, Lone Goose, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Sushi have plenty! Make the (much easier) trip over to Campus and celebrate the season of giving thanks, because we’re all thankful for our local brews!