A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Craig -

New Netherlands was not set up as a single commercial enterprise.This where it gets confusing, the colony isn't the colony of the company, it's for all intent and purpose van Rennselaer's colony—Beverwijck and the Fort were autonomous, they paid taxes initially worked for the company itself. The WIC, allowed members in good standing to purchase land in New Netherlands, if in turn they provided 50 settlers to head over for a minimum of four years. Those settlers were essentially indentured not to the company, but to the patroon, van Rennselaer himself.

I'm also not sure that Jacobson and Gerrittse rened the patroons brewery. Both owned property on State street, in what would soon become Beverwijck, where they operated a brewery on Jacobson's property. In 1657 he tears down that brewery and sells the lot. Prior to that he bought Jacob van Noortstrant's brewery, in 1654, minus the mill and brewing tools. So I'm guessing he moves operations to the newer location. He shuts up shop in 1662.

Alan -

OK, a dual enterprise but it is not a civic colony but one filled with indentured servants who answer to the arbitrarty rule of the land owner who earned the right to live on after their servitude is over. Jeesh. Tough audience around here. One of the reason they would have been relatively successful is that the further north you went the less nasty the diseases were to immunity lacking Europeans. In Virginia, according I think to a book by Alan Taylor, the indentured had to work 3 years to be free but only a tiny number lived long enough to get there.

Not sure what you mean by they didn't rent the patroons brewery when the record says they did. These cats were wheelers and dealers. Look at this sale of tavern goods from about the same time. People buying everything in return for the promise of future beaver pelts. If there was any capacity for brewing these guys are going to snap it up. Good to see that a "ton" was a barrel.

Ethan: what is "Holland beer" in those sale goods? Why does a barrel of #8 cost 30 but the others seem to be 24?

Craig -

I may have answer! Jacobson and Gerrittse may have rented the patroon's brewery, across the river in Greenbush, in the the interim, before commencing brewing on State Street.

Here's a cool thing—the street, one street over from my house is Van Schoick Avenue— Goosen Gerrittse was also known as Goosen Gerrittse van Schaick ( Van is the Dutch word for "of", as in Goosen Gerrittse of Schaick). Van Schoick is a bastardization of van Schaick. The van Schaicks—Gerrittse's family—operated the brewery at what is now the "old post office" well into the 18th century!

I love Albany!

Craig -

I sent Ron an email asking about Holland beer as well. He'd never come across anything like that. He thought, what I thought—it was just beer from Holland. Maybe they logged it as "Holland" to differentiate it from locally brewed beer.

Alan -

Unlikely they are importing "Holland beer" and that it is the whole of a taverns stock at auction when the place is riddled with breweries and they are exporting. More likely "Holland-style". But, again, ships manifests will tell the tale.

Alan -

We need to find the archives of the Dutch West India Company. Do we know anyone in Holland?

Gary Gillman -

Alan, have you looked at George Ehret's late 1800's Twenty-Five Years of Brewing?


There is a good 30 pages, the first part of the book, devoted to the history of brewing in old New York. Unfortunately, and despite that Ehret was a brewer, there is little information on what the beers were and how they were made. The one piece of tangible information is that the Dutch in the 1600's in New York State brewed with barley malt, wheat and oats.

I would think therefore that many of the beers were like a modern dark or light wheat beer, i.e., using mixed malt and wheat and in some cases oats, which would have given body and a slight oily note. No doubt this was Holland beer as referred to in those inventories, and we know wheat beers were made at the time in Flanders and adjoining areas. (Until recently for example Cambrai in far northern France had a white beer style, it has been revived in Lille and environs in recent years. Heineken makes a wheat beer, etc.).

Whereas I'd infer that non-Holland beer was English-style, all-malt.


Gary Gillman -

So the woman in the painting (great image) would have been drinking something much like Heineken Tarwebok:


In fact I'm pretty sure Ehret wrote that Dutch New York only brewed in autumn and spring, so it kind of ties in.

It looks like a wheat beer in that pic too, it just does. :)


Craig -

I found an account and invoice of the ship de Witte Kloodt from 1671, on which it appears that Gerret Noppen has paid f204 for 12 brandy casks, with 34 barrels of ship's beer and 4 kegs of good beer, with the casks and hoops. The de Witte Kloodt left Amsterdam in 1671 for New York, with what appears to be some beer on board.

This account come from Kiliean van Rennsealer II, the fifth patroon of Rennselaerwijck, grandson of Kiliean van Rennsealer.

Alan -

But, for me, that is for consumption on board. The ship's beer is the daily drink of the crew and the officers get the four kegs for themselves.

Gary Gillman -

See pg. 20-21 from Ehret's book viz. use of malted barley, wheat or oats in 1600's brewing in the area concerned.


Alan -

Heaven's to Betsie... what a quotation!

"Yet, so anxious was Stuyvesant to prevent evasions of his orders that he even forbade brewers to sell or give beer by the small measure to anyone—even to their boarders, "who, they pretended, came at meal times to eat with them." By way of additional safeguard, he required the brewers to obtain a permit from the Secretary of the Colony whenever they wished to remove beer from their brew-houses. To enforce all these new laws and ordinances, promulgated for the sole purpose of securing as nearly as possible the full amount of taxes due the exchequer, Stuyvesant appointed inspectors, gaugers and revenue supervisors. Nevertheless, either on account of his natural distrustfulness or because he wished to set a good example to his officers, he frequently visited and inspected the taverns himself to make sure that his laws were obeyed. Money still being scarce, he increased the excise again and again, without permitting the brewers to raise the price of their product, until the beer-drinkers loudly complained that, with every increase of tax, the brewers made their beer "thinner and poorer." These complaints finally induced him to adjust the prices of beer in accordance with the increased cost of production, and to prescribe minutely the quality of the article. It may interest the reader to learn that beer, in those days, was made either of malted barley, wheat or oats, and that, whenever there was a scarcity of any of these cereals, the law-makers usually forbade the malting of it. Here, as in the New England colonies, the law provided for three grades of beer: the first grade requiring six bushels of malt for every hogshead; the second, four bushels; the third, two bushels. Complaints about the quality of beer were sometimes investigated by a court composed of the schepens and burgomasters. In 1655, when one of the burgomasters and two of the schepens were brewers, this Court, being engaged in the consideration of such a complaint, adjourned and personally sampled the beer in dispute; whereupon they gave judgment in accordance with their own evidence."

Craig -

van Rennselaer makes note of the cost of beer here, as well, and it looks like he contracts Evert Pels to work at his colonial brewery as a measure to combat that.

Craig -

Not sure who Mr Yourdon is, that was supposed to say...

van Rennselaer makes note of the cost of beer here as well, and it looks like he contracts Evert Pels to work at his colonial brewery as a measure to combat that.

Alan -

I am not getting your pages from the book. Not sure...


[My brain now hurts. Help me, Mr. Yourdon.]

John G -

In colonial times the Mohawk-Hudson region produced vast quantities of wheat. There was both a large domestic demand for flour, and a huge export market. Wheat was the cash crop of the M-H. Peter Kalm, a Swedish naturalist, visited Albany in 1749 and recorded his observations. Here is a quotation from his journal on the subject of barley, wheat, and malt:
"They do not sow much barley here, because they do not reckon the profits very great. Wheat is so plentiful that they make malt of it."

By contrast, Kalm says that he saw great fields of barley growing along the Hudson just north of NYC. This leads me to conjecture that there were (at least) two "regional" beer styles by that time. NYC brewers likely used barley malt, while the upstate Dutch brewers used wheat malt. Kalm noted that maize was widely grown, along with rye and enough oats for home use but does not mention any of these grains being malted. This doesn't mean they weren't, of course, and individual brewers probably did experiment with different grains, but on the whole it seems likely that wheat malt was predominant.

Kalm's journal is available as a free ebook on Google. Search the terms "Peter Kalm Travels North America" and it should pop up.