After more than two months (66 days) at sea, the Pilgrims finally arrived at Cape Cod on November 11, 1620, 402 years ago. Originally bound for what is now the Hudson River in New York City, the ship opted for early moorage to escape poor weather and for fear of exhausting their rations, one of the most important of which, was beer.
Beer proved to be a much better travelling companion as water stored in wooden barrels went bad quite quickly, whereas the brewing process in beer meant it kept the water safe from contaminants.
A year later as William Bradford and his separatist “Saints” sat down with the local Native Wampanoag tribe to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, there is some debate as to the beverage used to wash down the festive feast. There are those that insist beer was on the menu, but evidence due to the lack of supplies suggest the more likely fare was hard cider. While the Wampanoag, who were already familiar with local resources, likely introduced the Pilgrims to ingredients like corn, which could have been used in the brewing process, there are several species of apple native to North America which would quite likely have been present in Massachusetts.
Hard cider would have been familiar to the settlers from England and thus a welcome substitute during Thanksgiving and beyond. It was full 16 years before the first brewery started by Captain Robert Sedgewick, would open its doors. There are no records to indicate the date of Captain Sedgewick’s brewery’s closure, but we know it was the first of many great craft breweries that help to keep the world hydrated and safe at sea!