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[hole] open till it is almost done working. Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.
The recipe may be a bit nonsensical and honestly sounds like it would taste like utter crap (back in 2011, Shmaltz Brewing tried to recreate the recipe as 'Fortitude's Founding Father Brew), but it still shows a pretty fascinating historical interesting in homebrewing from a man who later led our country. And given that his farewell address included strong statements against partisan politics, he may be a shining example of the idea that maybe beer CAN actually make you a bit wiser.
Though his homebrewing activity took place after his departure from the White House, Thomas Jefferson might have the most prolific brewing past of all the former Presidents. The layout of his Monticello retirement plantation in Virginia included both a brewing room and a beer cellar, and he and his wife Martha would typically brew fifteen-gallon batches of sessionable table beer every couple weeks. There's even a letter from 1813, written from Jefferson to his neighbor (who, coincidentally, supplied his malt) that said "I lent you some time ago the London & Country brewer and Combrune's book on the same subject. We are this day beginning under the directions of Capt. Millar, the business of brewing malt liquors, and if these books are no longer useful to you I will thank you for them, as we may perhaps be able to derive some information from them." So don't worry, homebrewers of today, your problems aren't new; even 200 years ago, Jefferson had friends who borrowed his stuff and didn't give it back.
He may not have been a brewer himself, but President Carter certainly proved that he supported those that wanted to create beer in their home. On October 14th, 1978, Carter signed the bill H.R.1337 into effect, which essentially legalized homebrewing. More accurately, it decriminalized it by creating an exemption from taxation for beer brewed at home for personal or family use (100 gallons per year, per adult, to be specific). Why did this not happen until the late 70's? Conveniently enough, when Prohibition had been repealed, a nifty little clerical error meant that beer was left out of the new law that said home wine-making was legal. As Bob Slydell in Office Space might say, Carter simply 'fixed the glitch.' The downside? The law is only federal, and still left the door open for individual states to criminalize homebrewing, and sadly, some horribly out-of-touch states still take advantage of it. Looking at you, Alabama and Mississippi!
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
repealed the 18th Amendment of January 16, 1919, ending the nationwide prohibition of alcohol and allowing for beer to once again flow like wine (well, legally anyway).
These are just a few strong examples of past Presidents who showed clear support for, and recognized the importance of, beer in life. Chances are, a good portion of our past leaders kicked back with a beer now and then. Heck, William Taft probably enjoyed a beer in the tub. And when Lyndon B. Johnson was flying around drunkenly in his amphicar, who knows how many pints he had knocked back previously. Regardless of when or how they enjoyed it, beer has as much of a historical presence as anything in the White House, and this quote from Abraham Lincoln sums it up nicely:
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
Here's a toast to our nation's great leaders. Happy Presidents' Day!