The history of beer in the 18th century is largely one of innovation. The industrialization of beer began with the invention and development of the steam engine. Greater attention was also focused on improving brewing methods during the century.
Housewives in the northern colonies of what is now the U.S. brewed beer every few days. Their beer had a short shelf life.
Londoner John Clarke invented the hydrometer. It measures the alcohol content of beer.
In the Netherlands, there were 100 brewers employing 1,200 people.
Mary Lisle was the first known “brewster” in North America. She assumed operation of her late father’s brewhouse in Philadelphia.
Arthur Guinness began brewing a dark-brown stout in the town of Leixlip, Ireland.
George Washington wrote his personal recipe “To Make Small Beer.’
The Theory and Practice of Brewing was published. It was the first attempt to establish rules and principles for the art of brewing.
The king of Prussia, Frederick II, imposed a high tax on coffee. He wanted to increase brewing, from which he got substantial revenue.
• With the invention of the steam engine in 1765, industrialization of beer became a reality.
• The British Army built a brewery at Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh, PA). It was the first brewery west of the Allegheny Mountains.
A British entrepreneur agreed with the East India Company to provide beer to the British Civil-service and merchants in the India colonies. He doubled the hop content to help preserve the beer on its long voyage.
A mixture of dark to light malts called “Porter” was developed in England.
Revolutionary War measures by Congress included rationing to each soldier one quart of spruce beer or hard cider per man per day.
In England, Charles Hall founded a brewery in Dorset. In 1847 the Woodhouses married into the family and it became the Hall & Woodhouse brewery.
• John H. Molson acquired a share in a log cabin brewery on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in what is now Canada. This began the Molson beer empire.
• George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had their own private brewhouses.
• Samuel Adams operated a commercial brewery.
British inventor Joseph Bramah patented a beer-pump handle.
• James Madison proposed a low tax on domestic beer to encourage its production.
• George Washington said he would only drink porter made in the U.S.
• Massachusetts passed a law encouraging the brewing and consumption of beer and ale.
Consistent with the actions of 1789, New Hampshire decided not to tax brewing property.
We now have an idea of what happened with beer in the 18th century. Bigger changes occurred in the History of Beer in the 19th Century. Let’s take a look.
Books on the History of Beer in the 18th Century.
Bostwick, W. The Brewer’s Tale: a History of the World According to Beer. NY: Norton, 2014.
Burnett, J. Liquid Pleasures: a Social History of Drinks in Modern Britain. London: Routledge, 1999. (17th century to present.)
Combrune, M. The Theory and Practice of Brewing. London: J. Haberkorn, 1762.
King, A. Beer Has a History. London: Hutchinson’s, 1947.