Brewed in Penn’s Woods: German Influence on English Beer Production in Colonial Pennsylvania from 1650 to 1800

Brewed in Penn’s Woods

Ms. Sharon Hess completed a project titled “Brewed in Penn’s Woods: German Influence on English Beer Production in Colonial Pennsylvania from 1650 to 1800.” Early modern Europeans had good reason to believe that “in wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria;” alcoholic beverages such as beer provided a safe alternative to drinking the often-polluted water omnipresent in cities and towns.

For generations of English and Germans, beer was an essential dietary staple, locally brewed according to traditional recipes and fermentation techniques directly influenced by the cultures, climates, and terrains in which they were produced. Despite the abundance of clean water in the New World, emigrants to the colonies brought with them not only their preference for lagers and ales over water but their own culturally-distinct methods of production. These migrants- under the pressures of cultural diversity and new environments- adapted their recipes and production methods to their new locale. Focusing on two immigrant groups from countries renowned for their brews, Ms. Hess' research examines the impact of German influence on English beer production in colonial Pennsylvania and the ways in which uniquely Pennsylvanian-style beers and brewing techniques developed as a result.