What the colonists might have quaffed

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Yards Brewing Co.'s Ales of the Revolution are beers with a history chaser. The Philadelphia microbrewery, which opened in 1995 in a building the size of a toolshed and now occupies a former skateboard rink, has attempted to replicate the brews our Colonial forefathers would have downed while talking sedition in wayside taverns.

General Washington's Tavern Porter takes its cue from a home-brew recipe, preserved in the New York Public Library, that Washington jotted down while he was serving in the Continental Army. It calls for fermenting a "small beer" from molasses, evidently a more common ingredient than barley in that era.

Yards President Tom Kehoe compromised, beginning with a base rich in dark, heavily roasted malts, then adding four pounds per barrel of baking molasses during the second fermentation. The sugar-rich molasses kicks up the alcohol to 7 percent by volume, but enough residual sweetness remains in the beer to balance the sharper, coffeelike flavors....
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