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Good Beer Hunting

Oct 24, 2019

If you’re part of the beer world, you’ve probably heard folklore about our Founding Fathers—the men who signed the Constitution, the first American presidents—brewing their own beer. That’s an appealing story, a fun tidbit you might tell a friend when they ask you about your own brewing adventures. 

And yet, how critically have we regarded this story? Think about the timeframe folks like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson were operating in. Both men, the first and third presidents of the United States, respectively, were slaveholders. And it’s much more likely—guaranteed, even—that their slaves, not them, were the actual brewers. 

Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckham pulled at the thread of this tale to point out its logical fallacies, and to shine a light on the actual brewers, specifically Peter Hemings, in her piece, “Missing Ingredients — The (Incomplete) Story of Thomas Jefferson’s Unsung Brewer,” which was published on our website on December 12, 2018. 

The path to this story wasn’t quite linear for Dr. J, as she’s known throughout the beer world. Dr. J, who has a PhD in Communication & Cultural Studies, and who uses her training to study the beer world, started having inklings about this story as she was still working on PhD, but couldn’t quite find a place for it. We’ve all had this happen—a brilliant idea strikes us while we’re working on a different project, and we can’t exactly articulate where it belongs. So it stayed with her. For almost a decade. Now, in our conversation, she shares more about its long evolution—and its rewarding payoff.

This is the Good Beer Hunting Collective podcast. Here’s Dr. J.