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George Washington's Small Beer

161 calories 15.8 g 12 oz
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Beer Stats
Method: All Grain
Style: Specialty Beer
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 1 gallons (fermentor volume)
Pre Boil Size: 1.5 gallons
Pre Boil Gravity: 1.033 (recipe based estimate)
Efficiency: 70% (brew house)
Source: George Washington, Notebook from 1757
Calories: 161 calories (Per 12oz)
Carbs: 15.8 g (Per 12oz)
Created: Thursday October 10th 2013
Amount Fermentable Cost PPG °L Bill %
0.50 lb Flaked Wheat0.5 lb Flaked Wheat 34 2 33.3%
1 lb Corn Syrup1 lb Corn Syrup 37 0.5 66.7%
1.50 lbs / 0.00
Amount Variety Cost Type AA Use Time IBU Bill %
0.25 oz Liberty0.25 oz Liberty Hops Pellet 4 Boil 60 min 22.22 50%
0.25 oz Liberty0.25 oz Liberty Hops Pellet 4 Aroma 10 min 8.06 50%
0.50 oz / 0.00
Danstar - Nottingham Ale Yeast
1 Each
Attenuation (avg):
Optimum Temp:
57 - 70 °F
Fermentation Temp:
65 °F
Pitch Rate:
0.00 Yeast Pitch Rate and Starter Calculator

From George Washington's notebook circa 1757.

This recipe has been scaled down from a full cask size to 1 gallon.

Ingredients, per Washington's recipe:

0.5lb Wheat Bran
1lb Molasses (light molasses, or Lyle's Golden Syrup)
Hops to your taste

Heat 1.50 gallons of water to 165F. Add wheat bran, and heat to boiling. At start of boil, add first hops.

Stir well to avoid bran sticking to bottom of kettle.

Add aroma hops with 10 minutes remaining.

Pour boiling contents of kettle over a strainer into a new kettle that has the molasses/golden syrup in it. Let the strainer drain for a couple of minutes, then discard the spent bran/hops.

Cool to "just above blood warm" or around 80-90F. Pitch yeast and attach blow tube or airlock.

Ferment 7-10 days, then bottle without priming (this is a still beer). There may be some residual fermentation that provides very light carbonation. You can also wait until all fermentation completes and then bottle, which takes about 14 days or so.

This beer could benefit from extended resting time to let the fluffy trub settle out - whether in the fermenter, or the bottle. It will not form a typical yeast layer on the bottom of a bottle, but rather more of a gelatin-like layer in the bottle. Be aware when pouring the beer from the bottle so globs of trub don't fall into the glass.


  • Tasting Notes
    Appearance - much like a hefeweizen. Bright, cloudy yellow. Described as looking like "pineapple juice" by a few people.

    Aroma - yeasty, with light fruit.

    Flavor - Grapefruit and wheat. Harsher/edgier citrus "zing" when fresh, which has mellowed considerably over the course of a few weeks in the bottle. This beer has a hint of dryness, with a very forward hop presence.

  • Bottom line

    This is an interesting piece of history from Mr. Washington. I will be bottling this a month or two before the 4th of July, to share with others.

    George advises "hops to your taste" and I would take him up on it - vary the hops but watch out with the want low alpha hops for this brew. The bitterness of the hops presents itself assertively if you are not careful with the bittering amount.

    This is a very light and dry beer that showcases hops if you proportion it right, with a smooth mouthfeel and very light wheat notes.

  • Original Recipe - punctuation added

    To make Small Beer

    Take a large Sifter full of Bran[.]
    Hops to your Taste. Boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 Gallons into a Cooler, put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler & strain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold, cover it over with a Blanket & let it work in the Cooler 24 hours. Then put it into the Cask[.] leave the bung open till it is almost done working[.] Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.
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  • Public: Yup, Shared
  • Last Updated: 2013-11-22 21:32 UTC
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