Pilgrims, Beer Folklore and Budweiser

Did you know that there is a story going around purporting  that the real reason the pilgrims landed at Plymouth was because they ran out of beer?!

It’s a fun story, one that I’ve heard many times in History Channel documentaries on beer abd one that I love to tell to people. I even helped Adam over at the Beerbits2 blog  name a rapidly brewed English Ale he concocted for Thanksgiving, using this story. My idea was to call it “1620 Pilgrim Ale.” He took this initial idea and improved upon it, naming it “1620 Just in Time Ale.” I thought this was much better considering the double meaning behind it: the pilgrim’s landed at Plymouth “just in time” as they were running out of beer and he finished his beer “just in time” for the Thanksgiving holiday! However, Adam did a little research find out more about this pilgrim/beer connection and, following his lead, I decided to look at it  a bit closer myself. It turns out that the story is actually a huge myth! However, the real story behind how this myth has been perpetuated over the years is a fascinating one.  In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share the story with you.

The story, as it is told on the Beer Institute website, is based on the following quote from the journal of one of the passengers aboard the Mayflower:

“We could not now take time for further search…our victuals being much spent, especially our beer…”

And here’s the real story according to the most recent column from Joe Sixpack, “The Mayflower Beer Tale Takes a Hit.”

Okay, so the story’s not true. But I actually think the real story is much more interesting and more telling about American beer history.

I encourage you to tell the story (the real one, or just the fake one if you’re so inclined) at your Thanksgiving gathering. I’m sure it’ll spark some great beer-related dinner conversation.


3 thoughts on “Pilgrims, Beer Folklore and Budweiser

  1. It is interesting how this evolved. I think it actually makes the whole story even more interesting. Just one more chapter.

    The 1620 Just in Time Ale was delicious. I really was surprised at how much people enjoyed it. We kicked almost 5 gallons at the party!

    I’ll definately be making this again!


  2. Actually, according to alcohol historian, Dr. Mark Lender, and consistent with the quote – the reason the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth was because they ran out of beer and beer being the only potable (drinkable) beverage, they had to find a port. The Mayflower crew had no obligation to share their brew with the Pilgrims and essentially, let them off at the first land mass they saw (Plymouth).

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