We often forget about the importance beer played in the settlement of the country we love so much. In the early 1800′s, beer was a huge component to the daily diet for the majority of most Americans including children. Women even drank beer when they breast fed because it was believed to provide nutrients to the unborn child. Kids also assisted in brewing beer and worked in breweries through the early 1900’s. As a matter of fact, families kept sacred cookbooks that contained family beer recipes alongside food recipes that often dated back hundreds of years. Until modern sanitation methods surfaced, it was safer to drink beer than water. If you were going boil water, why not make beer. People were a different kind poor back then. When a family needed nutrition, it was up to them to find a means to get by. Beer played a crucial role in survival and social life. If you didn’t have money to eat well…you drank well because it was cheap to brew items that could be fermented.
Beer consisted of locally acquired ingredients. Hop pellets, specialty grains, lab controlled yeasts, and artificial flavorings did not exist. An open fire with an iron pot is how you rolled. If you wanted a cheap beer, items were collected and often mixed with molasses. It was hard for families to acquire grains all the time. Therefore, other items were often used to grab sugars starches needed to make alcohol.
Anyways, I was recently given permission by the Cincinnati library and a few historical societies to view some of the rarest books in Cincinnati dating back to 1820. Check out these awesome old time beer recipes. Try one! However, I promise they will not match our current selections.
Check these photos out:
Ohio Recipe Book of the 1820’s – 1820
Family Receipts, or Practical Guide for the Husbandman and Housewife. Cincinnati – 1831
White’s New Cook-Book – 1840
Here are some bonus items found in this book from 1840. Can chicken jelly can cure a hangover? I am definitely not willing to give it a shot!