Ardent Spirits: Adult Beverages and American Culture
2017 Dates & Times:
Lecture #1 – March 21, 7:00 pm
Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry
Dennis J. Pogue, PhD, University of Maryland
Lecture #3 – April 4, 7:00 pm
Role of Women in Cidering and Distilling in the Colonial Chesapeake
Sarah Meacham, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Lecture #4 – April 11, 7:00 pm
Belmont Vineyard and the 19th Century Wine Industry in the Virginia Blue Ridge
Carole Nash, Associate Professor, James Madison University
All lectures are FREE and will take place in the Dairy Barn Lecture Hall and will run 60-90 minutes.
Best Western Staunton Inn
92 Rowe Rd. Staunton, VA
Lecture #1 – March 21, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Dennis J. Pogue, PhD, University of Maryland
“Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry”
From modest beginnings in the first decades of the 17th century, the production of alcoholic beverages expanded and matured until by the early 1800s it was one of the most important industries in America. Over time whiskey made from locally grown grain replaced Caribbean rum distilled from molasses as the preferred spirit. Few people know that George Washington, the foremost leader in the nation’s founding, was also a pioneer in developing the American whiskey industry. The distillery that he established at his Mount Vernon estate in 1797 quickly grew to be one of the largest producers in the country. Washington’s largely unknown and unexamined career as a distiller forms the core of this detailed portrayal of the early years of Americans’ close attachments to beverage alcohol.
Dr. Dennis Pogue has more than 35 years of experience as an educator, archaeologist, museum administrator, and historic preservationist. He is an adjunct associate professor in the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland, and consults on a variety of historic preservation related topics with museums, historic sites, and private citizens. He served for 25 years at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens, where he was vice president for preservation. Author of the award winning book, Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry (Harbour Press, 2011), which grew out of a 10-year effort that he led to study and reconstruct Washington’s whiskey distillery. He received his BA in history from the University of Iowa, his MA in American Civilization from the George Washington University, and his PhD in Anthropology with a focus on historical archaeology from the American University.
Lecture #2 – March 28, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Frank Clark, Historic Foodways Supervisor, Colonial Williamsburg
“Beers of Our Founding Fathers: An Overview of Brewing in the 18th Century”
This lecture traces the the beginnings of the industrialization of brewing that occurred during the 18th century, and will discuss the importance of beer in the lives, culture, and economy of the founding fathers. It will also review some of the interesting things they did with beer.
Mr Clark has been working at colonial Williamsburg for 27 years and has been in the department of historic foodway for 22 years. He is a graduate of Lafayette High School in Williamsburg Virginia. He has a BA in Philosophy from Ferrum College. His primary area of research has been 18th century cooking and beer brewing. He created the program “the arts and mysteries of brewing”, for Colonial Williamsburg. Mr. Clark has also worked with Aleworks brewing company to create a line of beers exclusively brewed for Colonial Williamsburg based on 18th century brewing recipes. Mr. Clark has also studied historic chocolate making and butchering. Most recently he worked with the historic area products division to create some historically inspired condiments including a mustard and an 1830’s catsup.
Lecture #3 – April 4, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Sarah Meacham, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
“Role of Women in Cidering and Distilling in the Colonial Chesapeake”
Sarah Hand Meacham will discuss the crucial role women played in cidering and distilling in the colonial Chesapeake. Alcohol was essential to colonial life; the region’s water was foul, milk was generally unavailable, and tea and coffee were far too expensive for all but the very wealthy. Colonists used alcohol to drink, in cooking, as a cleaning agent, in beauty products, and as medicine. The distillation and brewing of alcohol for these purposes traditionally fell to women. Advice and recipes in such guidebooks as The Accomplisht Ladys Delight demonstrate that women were the main producers of alcohol until the middle of the 18th century. Men, mostly small planters, then supplanted women, using new and cheaper technologies to make the region’s cider, ale, and whiskey.
Sarah Hand Meacham specializes in colonial American history. She published Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake with Johns Hopkins University Press in October of 2009. The book addresses why the making of alcoholic beverages, long a part of cookery performed by women, came to be redefined as a scientific activity to be completed by men alone during the late eighteenth century. She has published articles on this topic in theVirginia Magazine of Biography and History, Early American Studies, and Colonial Chesapeake: New Perspectives. She has also published articles on why colonists, who lived unavoidably among farm animals, wild animals, and insects, kept pets in their households; on how a love affair during the American Revolution led to the creation of an orphanage for girls in early America; and on naturalist Mark Catesby, whose drawings inspired both Thomas Jefferson and John James Audubon. She is currently writing a book about emotions in early America, including articles on the American invention of the concept of cheerfulness and on how enslaved men and women were expected to feel.
Lecture #4 – April 11, 7:oo pm
Guest Speaker: Carole Nash, Associate Professor, James Madison University
“Belmont Vineyard and the 19th Century Wine Industry in the Virginia Blue Ridge”
Over the past 40 years, the wine industry in Virginia has rapidly expanded from a small number of family-owned vineyards to more than 230 wineries. Aided by the growing popularity of wine tourism, Virginia is now 5th in the nation for vineyard acreage and grape product. What experts are now finding, however, is that this is not the first time wine has been a staple for Virginia. For instance, Shenandoah National Park holds the remains of one of the largest wineries in Virginia history: Belmont Vineyards. Over the past 4 years, ISAT professor Dr. Carole Nash, assisted by a host of students, the park, and advanced geospatial technologies, have helped uncover the vibrant wine industry that existed in Virginia over 150 years ago.
Carole Nash is director of the Shenandoah National Park Environmental Archaeology Program. She has 30 years experience in cultural resource management with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Commonwealth of Virginia and with various private firms. She earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Catholic University of America.
Please bring a photo ID if you wish to participate in product tastings that may occur during the events. Reservations recommended as the lectures have limited seating capacity (click here to reserve your seat today