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Washington Post: Society And Suds: NYC Beer Exhibit Traces History Of America’s Beverage

May 29, 2012


From the Washington Post:

Beer was hip in New York long before hipsters were into craft brews, according to a new exhibit at the New-York Historical Society that traces the history of beer all the way back to drunken Colonial times.

And it’s not your typical staid museum display: There’s even a bar at the end of it.

“Beer Here,” which opens Friday in New York City and runs through Sept. 2, aims to show that beer is steeped in the state’s alcoholic history. From a manifest with beer orders for George Washington’s troops to the diary of a 14-year-old hop picker, the exhibit capitalizes on the growing popularity of microbreweries and beer gardens. And it makes the case that, once upon a time, New York — once called New Amsterdam — was at the forefront of the American beer scene.

“Beer was very important to New Yorkers from the earliest point of colonization,” said museum curator Debra Schmidt Bach. “The Dutch have a strong beer tradition, so it was a very common drink in their culture, and that’s true for the English, as well.”

New York City was notorious for its taverns in the mid-1700s, when there were more watering holes here than in any other colony after Dutch colonists brought beer over by the boatload from Europe. Back then, beer was often healthier to drink than water.

“Clean water was a huge issue,” Schmidt Bach said. “And most of the sources that had been developed in the early 18th century were pretty polluted by the 1770s. So absolutely, beer was much cleaner.”

Scratched, cloudy-looking ale and porter bottles excavated from lower Manhattan are on display as evidence of beer’s popularity there during the 18th and 19th centuries. And an accounting ledger from tavern owner William D. Faulkner — no relation to the famous writer — shows he supplied beer to thirsty Revolutionary War soldiers, Continental and British soldiers alike.

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For full article visit, Washington Post

 


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