The beginning of winter, 1620, the Pilgrims leave the Mayflower to establish their colony. But what led them to choose this time and place to leave the Mayflower? -Beer. They were out of beer.
The crew of Mayflower wasn’t going to share their brew because they needed it to survive the winter and their voyage back to England.
This is from the writings of William Bradford mentioning their need for beer when he recalled the day they set out for what would be known as Plymouth:
“So in the morning, after we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution — to go presently ashore again and to take a better view of the two places which we thought most fitting for us; for we could not now take much time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer.” (Emphasis added by me)
Beer was considered a health drink, an absolute necessity. It was low in alcohol and didn’t make one sick like the water from many streams and wells in Europe. Out of beer the Pilgrims were forced to live off water.
In his book The Search for God and Guinness, Stephen Mansfield talks in detail about the Pilgrims and beer. Mansfield says that the need for beer often caused the Pilgrims and other colonists to do things “because it was a source of the health and the nourishment and the purity that our ancestors needed at the time.”
When the Pilgrims began building their settlement, they prioritized. The first building? You guessed it --a brewery.
But perhaps the strangest incident involving beer happened in March 1621 when the Pilgrims were approached by Somoset. Here is how Mansfield describes the scene:
“As startling as this Indian was to the Pilgrims, it was what happened next that shocked them most of all. The man neared, paused, and then shouted “Welcome!” in clear, perfect English. And then, most astonishing still, he asked — again, flawlessly in the Pilgrim’s own tongue — if they had some beer.”
“… [Somoset] had grown fond of the Englishmen, had become accustomed to their ways, and apparently developed a taste for English beer.”
So, when sitting around on Thanksgiving, you may want to give thanks for beer. Without it, the Pilgrims may have never survived to give thanks. And it’s a good bet that beer held a prominent place on the tables at the first Thanksgiving. –And even today it adds to the enjoyment of a modern Thanksgiving tradition –the football game of course!
I had amnesia once.
-or maybe twice.
Live Long and Prosper...