Beer & Chocolate Making in Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg explores 18th-century beer brewing and chocolate making during two Historic Foodways programs this fall and winter.

Explore the 18th-century tradition of beer making during Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways program. The Art & Mysteries of Brewing. Guests can see the process of brewing beer as it was practiced in the 18th century at the Governor’s Palace Scullery from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12, Saturday, Oct. 9, Sunday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 20.

The everyday beer for many people in 18th-century colonial Williamsburg was known as “small beer.” This small beer was made by boiling molasses, hops and wheat bran, straining out the mixture, and later adding yeast for the fermenting process. Many colonial brewers substituted molasses, corn stalks or pumpkins for the more expensive malted barley traditionally used to make beer.

The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker program allows guests to learn how raw cocoa beans are processed into chocolate and its uses in 18th-century cooking. The program is presented by Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways journeymen in the historic Governor’s Palace Kitchen, using reproduction period kitchen tools. Delving into the transition from cacao seeds to formed chocolate, guests discover every step of making the delicious treat 10 a.m.-3:45 p.m. on Tuesdays, Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Dec. 7,  Jan. 5, Feb. 2 and March 2.

Chocolate was made primarily to be served as a hot beverage, the drink of choice to pair with breakfast. Chocolate, along with coffee and tea, was considered a “necessity” in the colonies and could be found everywhere in the 18th century. The first recorded mention of chocolate in Williamsburg dates to the first decade of the 18th century, when College of William and Mary President James Blair noted serving hot chocolate to visiting Burgesses.

Since 2004, Colonial Williamsburg has been part of the Colonial Chocolate Society, an informal organization made up of representatives from Mars Incorporated, University of California-Davis, Colonial Williamsburg and other living history museums—all interested in the research, interpretation and presentation of historical chocolate making. Mars Incorporated and Colonial Williamsburg have partnered with other museums to create the Mars American Heritage line of chocolate products available at Colonial Williamsburg’s Craft House, Tarpley’s Store, Greenhow Store, Raleigh Tavern Bakery and WILLIAMSBURG Revolutions in Colonial Williamsburg’s Visitor Center. American Heritage Chocolate has been designed and developed as closely as possible to 18th-century chocolates eaten and consumed as a drink for pleasure and used by the armies as rations.  The American Heritage line includes an authentic chocolate drink mix, chocolate sticks and chocolate bars. Samples of coffee, tea and the American Heritage Chocolate Drink Mix made by Mars Incorporated are served at R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse during tours.

A Colonial Williamsburg admission pass or a Good Neighbor pass provides access to enjoy these programs.


About hemphillbrett

Floorcovering specialist
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