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Thomas Jefferson's Beer Brewed Again

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The new ale was crafted using the ingredients available to Jefferson during his time at Monticello. The new ale was crafted using the ingredients available to Jefferson during his time at Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson may be better known for his role as a U.S. president, architect and inventor, but soon he could also be known for the beer he once brewed at his mountain top home, Monticello. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation is teaming up with the Starr Hill Brewing Company in Crozet to re-create the beer Jefferson produced more than 200 years ago. It is called Monticello Reserve Ale.

Mark Thompson is founder and master brewer of Starr Hill Brewing Company and said he approached the Thomas Jefferson Foundation about making the beer about eight years ago.

"I really hope that Jefferson would be proud of this beer. It does taste really good," Thompson said.

Levi Duncan is the lead brewer at Starr Hill and describes the beer as "earthy hops, little bit of corn in the finish and lots of malt."

Most beers today are made with barley, but the Monticello Reserve Ale is not. The ale is modeled after the ingredients available to Jefferson at the time, including wheat and corn.

"This is the very first inaugural batch of the Monticello Ale here in this tank. We did 25 barrels of it so about 700 gallons for the first batch," Thompson said.

Jefferson never published a specific beer recipe so it was up to Duncan to develop just the right flavor.

"I did two pilots to, kind of, gauge how much to use of every ingredient," Duncan said.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Assistant Curator Justin Sarafin says the beer was one of the "table liquors" served with meals at Monticello.

"This room specifically was used for storing beer after it had been brewed in the brew house. Then it was transferred to bottle, stored in this cellar and from here it would make its way upstairs to the dining room," Sarafin said.

Re-creating Jefferson's beer helps to tell the story of Monticello.

"This is a great project in that it's sort of another avenue for talking about what happened historically here at Monticello," Sarafin said.

There will be a free tasting celebration to launch the Monticello Reserve Ale on Presidents' Day, Monday, February 21 at 12 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop.

The Monticello Reserve Ale will be available at Starr Hill Brewing Company and at the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop. A price as yet to be determined.

Reported by Jennifer Von Reuter
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