According To Me: How Brewing Cultures Develop

This is the third in a series of occasional posts in which I try to figure out what I really think about things like measuring how much one drinks or what taste looks like. This one, disconcertingly, it looks like a unified theory – something I have mocked for years. But a few weeks ago, Jeff and I shared some useful – perhaps spicy – comments by email back and forth about each other’s prose which triggered some reflection. Explaining myself, I put it this way:

I do not write for the reader. The entire thing, my entire hobby is an exercise in testing my own assumptions. I am trying to solve a very large puzzle. And then I apply the things I come up with – structures of argument in some cases but in other just very big thinking – back into my work life as well as my relationship with life generally. I appreciate that this is all sounding odd – a bit hypomanic – but it is very hard to explain. Last year I even wondered what it would be like to be a beer writer who never drinks beer at all. So it is not so much about being in or out of the bubble but seeing it as a bubble within bubbles next to bubbles and trying to get it all ordered.

I see bubbles. I guess. The other night I woke up at 4 am after a pre-post-apocalyptic dream* and, mulling bubbles for a while afterwards to change the story in my head, thought about what I had been seeing with all this research over the last year, the diving back and forth over centuries. What has struck me even more than ever is how pervasive beer is in our English-speaking culture’s history. There is an obvious reason for that. Alcohol arises naturally, spontaneously. I remember in high school watching out my front window at starlings gorging on the rowan berries in the front yard bush. They were getting quite drunk off the fermented juice. Having a hard time landing or staying on a branch. One bird holding tight to the telephone wire side by side with his or her fellow lost toe grip and swung right round 360 degrees. The berries were loaded with rough country wine. And so became the birds.

This is good. It is a thing of nature. Beer is too. When we say “I would like to shake the hand of the man who invented beer” we tell a fib. Someone somewhere some long time ago came across a puddle. It had formed twice. Once briefly to get the ripe grain laying on the ground damp enough to sprout. And then again later for the now-altered malt to ferment. Someone drank from the puddle and figured out what had happened. All the brewing in all the history of humanity is a repeated effort to replicate the moment. To recreate what that puddle spawned. I see three core tendencies or aspects of those efforts, those replications: vernacular beer, scientific beer, mass market beer. Each is normal… whatever normal is. Better to say they reliably reoccur. Each tendency generates pleasure and profit reliably, too. And breweries – and brewing cultures – over time reflect more than one tendency or aspect. Just the few city blocks of Golden Lane in London, England display all three facets over the centuries. And each tendency generates associated sorts of beer. In a fairly regular pattern.

I prefer the idea of vernacular brewing over words like traditional or indigenous. Brewing can speak of a place. Stan will be pleased. Look at that video up there. It’s was shared by** the ever excellent Lars Garshol of Larsblog. Look at what is going on there. It’s likely very similar to how ale was brewed by an early micro. Or by William Mead in 1790s Stillwater, NY. Or at Hoegaarden in the 1400s for that matter. Vernacular brewing depends on a measure of geographical, jurisdictional or economic isolation. Look at the thumbnail. That is a page of Lord Selkirk’s diary from 1803 in which he describes a 12 barrel brewery on the frontier in NNY. Barley is little grown. So the beer is made of a blend of wheat, what barley that can be found and chopped straw. Tidy and efficient. Local resources making local beer for the local population. Unger indicates that how the semi-autonomous jurisdiction of Hoegaarden exported its singular sort of beer throughout the Low Countries of the Renaissance. Understanding local can be very important. Many years ago my part-time farmer father-in-law’s veterinarian traveled to the Ukraine as part of a Canada-USSR project to assist in improving farming practices. He entered a barn where he found the cattle eating fresh cut corn – the whole plant, unripened corn and all. The advice he gave? Kill half the cows. Not enough food to feed all of them from the crops they had on hand. Gotta know what’s possible. Locally.

Scientific brewing represents a refusal. A refusal to accept what vernacular brewing teaches us. It is geared for efficiency or as E.P. Taylor might put it as in the 1942 letter beneath that thumbnail, the avoidance of waste. Coppinger in 1815 wrote of the need for cleanliness and an “economical mode” of building a brewery if the new American Republic was to meet the standards of old world brewing. Efficiency is not code for skill. Coppinger knew it was possible to make “clean bright malt” in a rustic setting. Unlike what some will tell you, pale ale spared from smoke was well known long before the scientific revolution. In addition to the race for efficiency, brewing changes to react to scarcity. Coke was introduced to malting as a replacement for charcoal long before that, as well. It was not so much because it was better as it was due to fact that England’s forests had been drastically thinned out by the late 1500s. The new fuel provided a new way to continue on with brewing. It is related to better husbandy. The late Georgian and early Victorian reports of the recently invented Agricultural Societies on both sides of the Atlantic described the advances in brewing from an economic point of view. Beer is persistent.

The scale of the mass market has also been an abiding theme with brewing. Taylor of Albany had a pontoon room in the mid-1800s which echoes the royal breweries of ancient Egypt. The Hanseatic trade routes of the 14th and 15th century that allow Hamburg to have a massive brewing industry mirror how the coming of the railway to southwestern Ontario unleashed the carbohydrate laden grain fields out to the British Empire though the previously local brands Labatt and Carling. It took the improvement of the River Trent in 1712 to get the sulfurous local brewer out into the wider world. The English hops trade was subject to scale in the mid-1700s with one merchant London-based James Hunter being “one of the one of the most considerable dealers in hops in England” controlling a huge portion of the marketplace. Beer has a habit to expanding and adapting to meet the possibilities.

If that is so, if brewing has a number of constant attributes like vernacular expression, scientific efficiencies and the opportunism of scale – not to mention the relative certainty of wealth creation – how extraordinary is any era? Is this era? In a way its consistency over time could one of its weirdest characteristics. But then couldn’t the same be said of other persistent commonplace things like shoes, cheese or rope? Something about the pattern make me wonder if it is all a symbiotic relationship held with yeast. Maybe even a wildly successful outcome of an experiment undertaken millennia ago by the Central Yeast Planning Council. It would at least make sense of the formula beer > drinking culture > brewery. Or at least that’s what I think.

*Lots of daytime grey clouds to the horizon views with commentary like “oh, this doesn’t look good.” At one point from an apartment I saw a darker swirling column of grey far off, another moment I was on a path among dunes watching meteor-like flashes in all directions overhead. I never have dreams like this. More Torchwood than Doctor Who.

**Lars commented that he was not the source of the video. I think I saw him link to it now that I think of it.

In The 1790s New York’s Frontier Also Moved North

albgazmeadbreweries1790

You can click for a slightly bigger image if that’s too tiny. See, what they are? A notice announcing the opening of a new brewery in 1790 and a notice announcing a brewery for sale in 1799. Same last name in each notice. Hmm… New Galloway is actually Galway, New York which was improperly recorded as being named after a town in Ireland instead of its actual namesake in Scotland. Stillwater, New York sits just over 30 miles to the east of Galway. These notices are not about the same brewery. North of Albany. Hmm…

Who are these Meads? A man named William Mead is described in a genealogy of the family as follows:

WILLIAM MEAD, M.D. was born October 15, 1747 in Greenwich, CT, and died February 01, 1829 in Galway, Saratoga Co, NY, buried in Charlton, NY. He married (1) PHEBE FARRANT. She was born Abt. 1750, and died October 21, 1776. He married (2) GEERTRUYD MYNDERTSE Abt. 1779 in Schenectady, NY. Notes for WILLIAM MEAD, M.D.: Revolutionary War Surgeon, 1st New York Regiment.

Is it him? This William dies in John’s town. Doesn’t look right. Hang on… there is another one:

WILLIAM MEAD was born January 08, 1748/49 in Nine Partners, Dutchess Co, NY, and died February 27, 1838 in Hector, Tompkins Co, NY. He married HANNAH PALMER 1778 in Stillwater, Albany Co [now Saratoga], NY, daughter of ELIAS PALMER. She was born September 13, 1760 in Norwalk, CT, NY, and died Aft.July 28, 1840 in Hector, Tompkins Co, NY. Notes for WILLIAM MEAD: William kept a tavern in Stillwater, NY, where he had moved two years after the Revolutionary War. He served at the rank of Colonel during the Revolutionary War.

Now that looks more promising. Here is a sheriff’s notice from 1790 showing William owning that tavern in Stillwater in 1790. Here is another from 1792 – see who the sheriff was? Peter Gansevoort – of the brewing Gansevoorts. And notice in the ad up there to the left that the brewery could do a 13 barrel brewing session? That is not a tiny operation. That is about the same size as the smaller kettle at the Brooklyn Brewery prior to the Revolution. It’s in the same ball field as Vassar’s first brewing set up in 1808. So, it’s a fairly generous operation for the time. Heck, it’s almost twice the size of Greg Noonan’s micro in Vermont. Notice also that he moves into the area from the south, his wife from Connecticut. A lot of the folk in the genealogy appear to do that. So, just as we see folk moving up the Susquehanna from the Mid-Atlantic to colonize the central Southern Tier in the first half of the 1790s there are others from New England moving into the area around Albany in the later 1780s. Likely moving into Loyalist farms, already cleared land. And brewing their beer.

albgaz21june1799hessianfly1799 was a bad year for NY brewers. Or at least a year in transition. The tail end of a recession. The Catherine Street spruce beer brewery is for sale. The once mighty Greenwich brewery of the Lispenards? Up for sale. Groshon’s place is up for sale, too. Yet there are the first want ads for folk wanting to hire brewers. Even coopers. Flux? Hessian fly? Click on the thumbnail. The Hessian fly is certainly hammering the fields.

What about the other guy. John Mead, the brewer. Crap. One thousand, one hundred and eighty references to men named John in the genealogy of the Mead folk. This may take some time.

Upstate New York Frontier Post-Revolutionary Brewing

nymap1796beerrouteWhat a title. I have been trying to figure out how to move out of the cities of Albany and New York and figure out what is going on in the young state’s countryside after the American Revolution. As with today, a variety of factors cause how beer is and is not available. And a variety of factors which affect why Albany remains the center of brewing in New York for the next two or three generations. As always, it is not just about the great white male even if there are plenty around to take credit and, yes, to have some effect. To understand what happens as a matter of individual personal will, however, is to miss much of history.

First, we need to consider a map. This is a detail of the 1796 map by John Reid showing western New York. It’s really large scale. Have a look around. Notice something? Not a lot of roads. Not a lot of towns. Not a lot of people even 13 years after the end of the Revolution. There are reasons for this. It was difficult to settle. There were treaties with the aboriginal population of the remaining Iroquois to settle. And there were residual colonial rights of the state of Massachusetts to play out as well. Beer needs people and, for the most part, beer drinking people were not there yet.

Next, you have to appreciate where people are showing up, their needs do not generally focus on access to beer. They are trying to survive on the frontier in accordance with how they show up in these newly acquired lands. Unlike with British held Upper Canada, settlement does not always happen in a controlled organized fashion. There are two competing approaches: Whig-theory colonization and Jeffersonian pioneers. Consider this description of the first Euro-Americans who arrive as pioneers at Ithaca, New York:

In the month of April, 1783, eleven men left Kingston, on the Hudson River, with two Delaware Indians for guides, to explore the country west of the Susquehanna, with the intention of securing a future home. They were a month or more thus employed, but returned without making a location. In April of the following year, three of their number, related to each other by marriage, Jacob Yaple, Isaac Dumond, and Peter Hinepaw, revisited the district previously explored Ind selected four hundred acres on lot No. 9-1, then in the county of Montgomery, of which the west line of Tioga Street in the village of Ithaca is now the western limit. Upon that part which was in the valley were several “Indian clearings,” being small patches from which the hazel and thorn bushes had been removed, and which had been cultivated after the manner of the Indians. It appears that for many years after the first settlement it was the custom for the whole neighborhood, extending several miles around, to avail themselves of these clearings on the Flat. Here they planted corn principally, thinking that it could not be raised upon the higher ground… The settlers, having planted their corn in these places, left it in the care of John Yaple, a younger brother of Jacob, and returned to bring their families, with whom they came back in September. They brought also a few articles of household furniture, farming utensils, and a number of hogs, sheep, cattle, and horses. The three families numbered twenty persons. A month was consumed in their journey to Owego, where there was a small settlement, and nineteen days from thence to Ithaca. The route pursued and the difficulties necessary to be overcome account for their slow progress. Between Owego and the head of Cayuga Lake was but a well-beaten Indian trail, along which the way had to be cleared through the forest. Arrived at their new home, they at once set to work to provide appropriate shelters for the several families…

And not only were these settlers focused on just making a living but they are likely illegal occupiers. They are occupying the lands before they have a right to be there. Look at the case of Seth Read. He shows up in Geneva, New York in 1790, makes an improper deal to buy lands from the Seneca and later, his time and money not offering return, has to move on further west into what is now Erie, Pennsylvania. Without title to the land you are not going to amass the capital to create infrastructure. Things like roads and mills. And schools and breweries. Compare this with the colonization efforts by those with proper claims to land title. A few years later to the north end of the next Finger Lake over, the settlement of Geneva, New York was described in 1797 as much more orderly and advanced:

Hence the road from Fort Schuyler, on the Mohawk River, to Genesee, from being, in the month of June, 1797, little better than an Indian path, was so far improved, that a stage started from Fort Schuyler on the 30th of September, and arrived at the hotel in Geneva, in the afternoon of the third day, with four passengers. This line of road having been established by law, not less than fifty families settled on it in the space of four months after it was opened. It now bids fair to be, in a few years, one continued settlement from Fort Schuyler to the Genesee River. All last winter two stages, one of them a mail stage, ran from Geneva and Canadarqua to Albany weekly. A wilderness changed, in so few years, to the comfortable residence of a numerous body of industrious people, who enjoy the comforts and conveniences of life in a degree superior to most parts of the United States, affords matter of curiosity to the intelligent traveller, and many respectable characters undertake the journey from no other motive. To them, therefore, it must be highly gratifying to find entertainment and accommodation equal to any thing of the kind in America. Very few places of the size now exceed Geneva, either as to the stile of the buildings, the beauty of the adjoining country, or valuable improvements. The number of sail-boats have greatly increased on the lake, and the sloop finds constant employment : and, in addition to their comforts, a person from Scotland has established, at Geneva, a very respectable brewery, which promises to destroy in the neighbourhood, the baneful use of spirituous liquors. The apple and peach orchards, left by the Indians, yield every year abundance of fruit, for the use of the inhabitants, besides making considerable cyder; so much so, that one farmer near Geneva sold cyder, this year, to the amount of one thousand two hundred dollars.

See that? One thousand two hundred bucks from cider? A fortune! And see that other thing? A brewery in 1797 in Geneva, New York. Half way between what is now Syracuse and Rochester. That’s the log cabin brewery that Lord Selkirk came across in 1803 and recorded in detail in his diary. Clear title to land and a road established by law. Things the true pioneer lack. The settlement at Geneva had another advantage. An early route to the sea. Before the road reached it, early Geneva sat on the lake. And the lake reached south. Have a look at the map again. Find Geneva and trace a line south. See the bottom of Seneca Lake? Look left a bit. See Mud Lake? See that branch of the Conhocton River reaching over to the north and east. Before the roads were there to move goods on land there was a route to get people and goods in and out that reached south. To the mighty Susquehanna and on to Baltimore.

nydiarymaude23july1800Click on that thimbnail. It’s an entry in the diary of John Maude from 23 July 1800. It describes a scene in a haying field near the Conhocton River, wild enough that its infested with rattlesnakes but settled enough that the locals are handy in dealing with them. And there is beer. Is that the route it took up there in red? The colonization of the Conhocton was a big effort that centered on a new town, Bath. It sought to create an estate in the old world style and it was based on the idea that a proper community needed a number of resources including beer. You may have noticed that there is no great city there today. The idea did not work out as planned. Bath never became more than a village and the surrounding area never became another Hudson Valley. But it does illustrate the way in which the civilization of beer first came to the frontier lands of New York, bringing the promise “to destroy in the neighbourhood, the baneful use of spirituous liquors.” Peace, population, law and investment. All preconditions to the establishment of a beer culture.

This is just a high level introduction. I am going to dig into New York state brewing in the 1790s, conclude the state of New York city brewing to the end of the 18th century and establish another foundation for the ascendancy of Albany in the first half of the 1800s. That will require looking at the Dutch estate properties, slavery, another early colonization effort at Cooperstown as well as the hovering menace of the British to the north. Piece of cake. Done by March. Easy peasy.

The Great White Male Hero Theory Problem

Still Not Backing Down For Four Hundred Years

What a great ad. It basically sums up everything about American brewing for the last four hundred years. It’s so absorbing you hardly notice how weird the music is. Part movie soundtrack when Gene Hackman smashes the Mopar though downtown. Part Eminem run through the graphic equalizer. It sounds like it starts at a point about a minute, fifteen seconds into the crescendo that started in last fall’s “Choices Have Consequences” ad. And the message builds, too. Poor widdle cwaft thinks that it is all about the big bad brewer running scared but it’s not. It’s gleeful assertion meeting commercial reality. The upstretched middle finger to some. The assertion of tribe to many others. An umbrella for those who buy the 80% or more of beer that is still light, inexpensive and easy to drain. It’s lovely. The greatest part of the loveliness is, however, not just its in the design elements of the presentation but that it addresses the same set of themes which have consistently sprung from or imposed upon brewing on this continent ever since warmed water was poured over cracked grain by our first founders around four hundred years ago.

=> Beer creates aggregation. Obviously the ad is about might. Brewing in North America has always been about the generation of might. A powerful place within the industry. Leveraging the wealth it generates out into society. It took a few generations of the pre-industrial pre-Revolutionary Dutch brewers of New York state to achieve it. It took brewers like John Taylor a lifetime in Albany of the mid-1800s. It took E.P. Taylor about a few decades in the mid-1900s. And it took a decade for microbrewing to spawn millionaire and billionaire big craft from 2005-15. Through co-operation, collusion and control brewing creates the opportunity to generate wealth, independence and even power. This is good as it is success. Sipping is not so good for success.

=> Beer is a means to an end. Not only does brewing aggregate but it does so in a repeated similar pattern. If you follow Michigan brewer Larry Bell on Facebook you will notice he spends a lot of time not brewing in Michigan. He in on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico or some such place. Interestingly, members of the mid-1750s Dutch brewing dynasties did the same thing. Anthony Rutgers IV was a privateer and lived on Curacao tending to the Hudson valley Dutch plantation trade that extended well past the British invasion as well as the American Revolution. Beer actually appears to dislike folk not improving their station in life. It attracts money too readily. Big craft branch plants on the east coast or in Europe are just another form of expansive market control that beer has always undertaken.

=> Beer is cyclical. Just as Mr Bell is retracing the wake in the warm water Mr Rutgers sailed in the 1700s, brewing repeats itself in overlapping cycles. Anything that imposes on the production of grain seems to restart the clock. The Hessian fly causing the deprivations and hardships of 1788-90 are not unlike the relationship between the Civil War and, as with the standard rules of baseball, the development of a homogenized taste for premium lager… not to mention the later dominance of industrial light lager after World War II. It also takes on and defeats – or at least holds down – the challenges of traditional brewsters’ beer houses, self-sufficient estate brewing, temperance drinks, imports, brew-your-own operations, micros, home brewing and now new nanos as they come forward each in their turn. These things come in waves but brewing continues. It knows it needn’t back down.

=> Beer is responsive. It needs to react to external forces. The overlapping cycles are not determined by brewing. It is the natural response of brewing to reassert itself in the face of crisis to maintain production and profit. It also reflects simple cultural change. It’s not by chance that micro brewing takes off in the 1980s concurrent with factors like the variety of cable TV and androgyny in pop music. It’s the decade that the range of choice explodes. Micro brewing follows that greater trend. Had the pioneers of micro not come forward rest assured other pioneers of micro would have come forward in the same cities in pretty much the same way. Beer responds in the late 1700s and early 1800s to scientific advances in agriculture in the same way. The Agricultural societies which arose after the end of the War of 1812 gave stability to the new farming lands and spread the news about scientific brewing just like cable TV informed consumers that they wanted the new beer because they wanted new cheese. Beer is responsive because it is one man – the ancient everyman – now carrying the keg, now armed with stainless steel at scale. He (or she) is fighting ocean going container ships stacked with uniformly Heineken green cargo boxes.

=> Beer is pervasive. Because brewing has transitioned in response to societal change over and over it has earned its place. Unlike, say, the mustards on the grocery shelf the aggregating tendency of beer needs a team. It asks for loyalty and gets it. Why would inexpensive joy juice not? It’s the mild affordable anesthetic that gets you through life. Tribal affinities are natural whether they are constructed of the cult of craft or light lager in the NASCAR stands. It’s heavy metal and new country. Craft and social media. Trains in the late 1800s sent out the message of better cheaper beer than the local brewer was making or charging. Trains from places like St. Louis and London, Ontario carrying casks branded with names like Anheuser-Busch and Carling reaching out from larger and larger breweries placed near those other train tracks which reach out into the grain fields. Beer informs you about both progress and legacy. It’s where you’ve been and where you are going. Get in line.

=> Beer resists. Because beer wants to keeps its rewards it pushes back and fights. If the fluid in the Bud ad up there was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale you would not have to change out many of the other elements. The boosters would just have to swap places. It does not like to hear other points of view. Big craft – including its co-opted communicators – is as much in lock step as the Bud ad as much as the 1600s to 1700s Dutch then 1800s to 1900s German brewing dynasties, each taking care to include all the cousins in the benefits. The business formula is too certain, too successful to do otherwise. No wonder we have identatext book after identatext book. Beer likes puff. We already see discussion in craft like this has fallen away. Disagreement is now disagreeable. It’s all the Borg. Bud is truly not backing down. No beer backs down. Because? America.

I love it. I had a Bud on Thursday night. I have one a couple of times a year. About as often as I have mashed turnip. They are both unpleasantly bitter and they are both cultural touchstones. Neeps are the ultimate statement of Scots cuisine. Bud is America. I get four clear phases: sweet rice, lumber, dirty bitter hop and a stale finish which more of that sweet rice quickly remedies. You are not supposed to like it. Turnip? It’s not yummy either. You are supposed to accept it like the other realities of life and be grateful for the comfort it brings. Bud tells you about North American life, too. It’s not fussy. Lemon flick. It meets you on the level. Given the existing kit that’s long paid off, it’s easy to make following instructions out of readily available resources – even as it tells you it’s difficult to make. You need to rely upon its word on that point even though you can make an acceptable substitute for less in your own kitchen. You can actually make good beer easily in your own home. But you don’t. Because you are part of something bigger. Something that works. The same way. Every. Time.

Yesterday The Rutgers Motherlode Fell Into My Lap

rutgerfamilytree

So, last October I posted about the location of Rutgers’ 1700s brewery in New York that seems to have ended its days in a fire in the 1780s – and then went off looking at other stuff from the same era related to other families and other breweries. But I got to wondering about when that Rutgers brewery was built and came across a dense essay on the family’s genealogy that just about answered every question I could imagine asking about them. So, once again, I am up at 5:30 am instead of snoozing for another two hours to see if I can get all this out of my head. The essay is located in that best seller from 1886 called The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volumes 17-18 published, neatly enough, for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.

The particular article in that journal is named “The Rutgers Family of New York” and it was written by Ernest H. Crosby. Without getting into the story of the Society itself, it’s interesting to note that the sister of the last wealthy brewing Rutger married into Crosby folk, one of whom, Enoch, was a Revolutionary spy for the unLoyalist side who became the basis for a novel by James Fenimore Cooper. I know this because there is an other article in the same book entitled “Geneological Sketch of the Family of Enoch Crosby” but enough about that. Let’s look at the Rutgers. Some highlights for starters and then, maybe over the weekend, I am going to keep adding more detail as I go along. I know. That’s not professional. It’ll be messy. I hear you. Bear with me.

1. Five generations of the family from the 1640s to 1830 were wealthy brewers who converted their resulting wealth into land ownership and political power.
2. They are slave owners – something not much mentioned with New York. Notice the reference in the lower left of the 1639 Vingboons map of Manhattan to the “Quartier van de Swartz & Comp de Slaven.” Here’s a very searchable reprint from 1670 to play with.
3. Before the Revolution they had at least four separate breweries concurrently being operated by fourth generation siblings and cousins.
4. They also operated two farms in downtown Manhattan that supplied their breweries with their own grain and which were likely worked by slaves.

I have seen 18,000 booted around as the figure for the population of New York City around 1760. By 1790, there are over 33,000 residents of the City. By 1830, there are over 202,000 living there. Good to keep those figures in mind as we go through this. Also, keep in mind the ugly diagram from this blog post from last weekend which gives a sense of the urban expansion during those years.

rutgersstonestreetmap1660detailrutgersstonestreetmap2016

The first brewery operated by the Rutgers dynasty was located on Stone Street in very downtown Manhattan by the second generation’s only male, Harman Rutgers, who moved from Albany in 1693 bringing his sons, Harman and Anthony. The street corner where it was located is still there, Stone Street and Whitehall. Click on the pale coloured thumbnail. The original name for Stone Street in the Dutch era was “Brouwer Straet” or Brewers’ Street. Gregg Smith in Beer in America: The Early Years 1587-1840 identifies this brewery but confuses the location saying it is “located on the north side of Stone Street near Nassau.” Nassau did not extend south of Wall Street at the time. The Rutgers were not the first to brew at the site. They bought an existing brewery operated by the family of the late Isaac de Forest. De Forest had immigrated to the New World with the father of Harman Rutgers (1st) in 1636. It had been operated since the 1650s relied on a well that was apparently still there in 1886. The insanely detailed Costello Plan of New York City from 1660 shows the location as well. Drawn as a bird’s eye view with every building set out, you can clearly see the intersection of Stone Street and Whitehall on this 1916 reprint. Click on the other thumbnail.

nymap1731rutgerdetailrutgersmaidennassaust

The second Rutgers brewery is that of Anthony Rutgers (1st) of the third generation. Located on Maiden Lane, it sits according to the record on the north side of the street on the blog between William and Nassau Street. This is an odd site as it is one block from the better recorded brewery of uncle then cousin Harmen. As you can see, like Stone Street, the location of this brew house on the block between is still there. The block is also shown on the 1730 Bradford map also shown right there on a thumbnail with the “A” showing where this brewery would have been. Not a lot of detail. In a letter dated 6 September 1720 from Isaac Bobin to George Clarke we read:

…As to Albany stale Beer I cant get any in Town, so was obliged to go to Rutgers where I found none Older than Eight Days I was backward in sending such but Riche telling me you wanted Beer for your workmen and did not know what to do without have run the hazard to send two Barrels at £1 16/ the Barrels at 3/ and 6/. Rutgers says it is extraordinary good Beer and yet racking it off into other Barrels would flatten it and make it Drink Dead…

nygaz3july1769Isaac Bobin was the Private Secretary of Hon. George Clarke, Secretary of the Province of New York. So clearly Rutgers was as good as second to Albany stale for high society… or at least their workers. And in any case – we do not know if it was from Anthony’s brewery or Harman’s. Not a lot of detail. Unfortunately, the 2014 book Manhattan in Maps 1527-2014 states at page 40 that there were basically no maps drawn from 1695 to Bradford’s in 1730-31. Drag. We will have to leave it at that for now for Anthony’s brewery. Except for this irritatingly detailed but undated reference in a letter, the PPS referencing this brewery for someone needing to find a nearby residence, meaning it is a known landmark. Oh – and in the notice in the New York Gazette from 3 July 1769 confirming the brewery was in operation as late as that date. That’s in the thumbnail up there.

The third Rutgers brewery is the other one on Maiden Street that I discussed last October. A few more facts. In the book History of the New Netherlands, Province of New York, and State of New York, to the Adoption of the Federal Constitution by William Dunlap, Volume 2 from 1840 at page CLXXV there is this:

Cart and Horse street is described, as “leading to Rutgers’s brewhouse,” that is, from Maiden Lane to the present John street, and is now part of Gold street. The brewhouse was burnt on the memorable 25th of November, 1783, in the evening of the day the English troops embarked and left the city to Americans.

nyrag19april1781rutgersgoldcarwithammap1730

See, like many anti-Loyalists and others simply wanting to keep their heads down, plenty of New Yorkers fled to safer areas during the Revolution, Albany or Connecticut. So, as we read in this history of the law practice of my fellow Kingsman Alexander Hamilton, the brewery is abandoned in 1776. In the book Generous Enemies, Rutger’s brother-in-law Leonard Lispenard is identified as seeking a way out of the city in the fall of 1775. The brewery is left idle until 1778 when the British co-opt it for local needs and then they destroy it on the way out of town as they dd with many assets in the fall of 1783. The other thumbnail up there is from the British era of brewing, appearing in the Royal American Gazette of 19 April 1781. The burnt brewery is still a landmark in 1787. If you want to learn more about the British cruelty in NYC during the war, get a copy of Forgotten Patriots. Notice also under the thumbnail a detail from the 1730 Carwitham map of NYC in 1730. See how the first block of Gold Street north of Maiden Lane is called “Rutgers Hill.”

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The last two of the breweries were located on country estates, not in the urban core of British New York. The first I will discuss is the one on the East River facing Brooklyn Ferry brewery across the water and to the east of the site of the Catherine Street spruce beer brewery. You can see the thumbnail image of a current map of New York. See the grid of streets outlined in red? That is the Rutgers estate where the last of the men named Rutgers, Henry, lived until 1830 on lands first acquired by his grandfather Harmen (1st) in the 1710s and developed by his father Hendrick. You can see the same lands on the detail of the 1776 Hinton map shown on the next thumbnail. What is now Henry Street, New York is the lane to the family mansion. In The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volumes 17-18 at page 89 describes the development of the property:

rutgersbreweryeastrivertext

More maps:

rutgersbreweryeastrivermap1865rutgersbreweryeastrivermap1776detail

The blue green thumbnail is really interesting. It is a detail from the fabulous Viele map of New York and shows the original land mass, the original boggy lands as well as the area of landfill into the East River as of 1865. It also shows the topography. Now notice on the brown thumbnail, a further detail from the 1776 Hinton map, how Rutgers managed the drainage of the bog that extended the farthest inland.

One more thing:

nyramgaz29july1779henrickrutgersnymerc09june1760rutgersslave

There is a grim, dark aspect to the Rutgers fortunes. The overall system is a vertically integration operation. The estates supply the grain which feed the breweries which create the profits to buy the lands. But the lands were worked by slaves. That large text thumbnail is a notice placed in the 9 June 1760 edition of the New York Mercury. It’s particularly grim when you compare it to this notice in the New York Journal 9 January 1772 about a stray horse. The other thumbnail shows how the brewery was used in the Revolutionary War for the storage of war supplies. The issue of slavery was brought to the forefront in the war.

[More later… it’s now 3:45 pm on Saturday. I wrote the family tree on Thursday after supper.]

[Two and a half weeks later… I am probably going to pick this up in another post… maybe…]

[November 6, 2016: and I did…]