One of the things that Craig has been working on is an unleashing of some dynamite information about the state of brewing in 1600s Albany. One of the things I was wondering as we've been emailing back and forth has been whether the Dutch colony at what became Albany operated like other early colonies like Cupids, Newfoundland in 1612 and in 1643 at the Printzhof, a center of New Sweden, on what is now Tinicum Island, Pennsylvania. In those cases, the colony was set up as a single commercial enterprise and the necessity of a brewery was part of the original plan. And looks like a similar thing was included in early Albany:
...Rutger Jacobson was a magistrate in Rensselaerswyck as early as 1648 and continued to fill that ofiice as late as 1662 and perhaps later. He owned a vessel on the river in 1649 in which year he rented in partnership with Goosen Gerrittsen the Patroon's brewery at 450 gl a year payable in addition one guilder for every ton of beer which they brewed. This duty amounted in the first year to 230 gl and in the following season they worked up 1,500 schepels of malt. On the 3d of June 1656 he laid the corner stone of the new church in Beverswyck and we find him subsequently part proprietor of Pachonakelick called by the Dutch Mohican's or Long Island below Bethlehem. He had the character of an upright citizen and to his credit it must be added he rose by his honest industry from small beginnings.
Note to the non-1600 Dutch amongst you: "gl" would refer to a guilder and a schepel is about 3/4s of a bushel.
So, the upright church builder and municipal magistrate Rutger rented out the colony's brewery and made tons of the stuff in the first year. But what did he make? If they are working up malt by the schepel, it seems he and Goosen are using local malt. But they were relative newcomers. Goosen emigrated from the province of Utrecht to the new Dutch colony in 1637. Their expectations and taste for beer would have been framed by their European experience.
And while beer was big back home at the time, it was facing change. Unger in his handy dandy book A History of Brewing in Holland 900 - 1900 explains that Dutch brewing is shifting towards a production decline at that point in time, one that lasts to the 1800s and the end of the days of the Dutch Republic. Brewing production, taxation and income dropped rapidly during the second half of the century. Grains used just before the period included wheat, rye, barley, oats buckwheat and spelt. At the outset of the century, beer was pervasive with adults drinking over 300 litre of beer a year on average while children drank around half that. It appears in contemporary art like the paintings of the excellently named Pieter de Hooch. At the point the Dutch are expanding in central New York, beer is still big though wine, brandy and gin will soon move into the market as well as tea, coffee and cocoa. Drinks of empire and industry.
Before that crash, earlier on in the transition, a culture that was democratic, expansionist, beer loving and confident would be making the drink it knew where ever it found itself like it did on the upper Hudson River at what is later - but not that much later - called Albany. But what sort was it?