I suppose this post should have gone up yesterday, but seeing as my wife is out of town and I have all four of my little ones to myself, and that on Thanksgiving (driving around to see family) Thank Heaven for Beer had to take a back seat.

Anyhow, I thought it fitting to regurgitate some beer history.  We all have learned from an early age that Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday commemorating an autumn feast held together between the Plymouth colonists (pilgrims) and the Wampanoag Indians.  The feast was actually quite a traditional event for the Natives who were celebrating the bounty of the harvest.

I must point out, beer played a most pivotal role here.  In fact, we would not even have “Thanksgiving” without it.  You see, those sailing on the Mayflower were traversing to the new world with hopes of not only religious freedom (less than half the voyagers were actually separatists) but also of being land owners and growing crops in the rich soil.  According to the charter granted to them, they could only settle down and set up shop between the 38th and 41st latitude lines.  Plymouth Rock (Cape Cod) lies just north of this legal designation.  Why would this rag tag group settle in a punishable area?

They had to…they had run out of beer.  That’s right, beer.  The journal of one Mayflower Pilgrim states, “We could not now take time for further search [...] our victuals being much spent, especially our beer.”  They could not take the time trying to push further south (against wicked shoals and contrary wind) when their survival was at stake.  The beer in mention was not what you might think.  This was unrefrigerated, low alcohol brew specifically  boiled for long journeys.  Water would not keep on such a long and arduous journey, but beer, having been boiled clean from impurities, would not only keep longer, but did have nutritious value.  Historians surmise that Mayflower inhabitants may have consumed a quart a day.

So you see, if the Mayflower had contained more beer, she may have been able to sail further south to her proper destination.  The colonists might then have never enjoyed a peaceful encounter with Wampanoag, and never had picked up the tradition of an annual feast we now know as Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, as the title of the blog suggests, I am thankful for beer…not only beer, but the Pilgrims lack of it.