Early Alcohol Consumption

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Utah Liquor Company Window at Night, 1914. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Early European colonizers in North America were used to drinking beer as a result of unsafe water in their native countries and they continued this practice in the new land. One certain source of beer was the tavern, which provided lodging, food and drink for travelers and locals as well. The Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam had a full scale brewery by 1612, and local micro-breweries were established to supply beer to other areas throughout the colonies.

Hops grew wild in New England and beer, drunk throughout the day, was made with a wide variety of ingredients, including fermented malt, roots, and pumpkin with additions of boiled bark from spruce, sassafras or birch trees. Fruit and vegetable wines were made by colonial farmers, who used honey as a source of fermentation, and honey was also fermented into mead. Apples were not native to New England but once orchards were established in the mid-1600s, mildly alcoholic cider became a favorite beverage for all family members; some was fermented into hard cider.