The 4th of July is here once again, and once again we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and our independence as a nation. On the 4th, people revel with fireworks, parades, parties, BBQs, and, of course, beverages.
But what will you be drinking on this 4th? Have you put any thought into it? Naturally, we would recommend to drink something American made and owned by an American company, as today is a day all about America. Sometimes, this isn’t as easy as you’d think. Budweiser, for example, is one of the highest selling beers by volume in the United States and when people think of America, Budweiser certainly comes to mind as it’s a brewery that first put roots down in America in 1852. Today, however, it’s owned by a Brazilian-Belgian company and headquartered in Belgium. Likewise, some of the classic and most popular made-in-Kentucky bourbons are owned by a Japanese company. Surprise!
So, this 4th, here are some beverages we recommend.
As many emigrants came to America from Europe, they brought the popularity of cider with them and it eventually rose to the point in the 18th century where it became a staple on every family’s table. New England alone in the 18th century was churning out over 300,000 gallons of cider very year.
Tilted Shed Ciderworks
Hailing from California’s Sonoma County is Tilted Shed Ciderworks which owners Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli call a “hobby gone wild.” They started with organic farming in New Mexico and an old, gnarled, neglected apple orchard became the inspiration to try their hand at cider. With promising results, their hobby turned more serious and they eventually moved to west Sonoma County, an area famous for wine grapes that they thought would translate well to apples for cider…and it did.
We recommend their Graviva! Semidry Cider. Graviva was created to celebrate and highlight the Gravenstein apple. Lightly effervescent and golden hued with pronounced acidity and a hint of sweetness, this cider pairs best with some of its kindred brethren, Sonoma County cheeses.
American wine has been produced for over 300 years and today is produced in every state, though over 90% of all wine in American is produced in California. In 2012, American wineries were responsible for more 752.4 million gallons of wine.
While it may come as a surprise, we’re not going highlight the big cult wines or an $80 bottle of cabernet. Instead, we’re looking at a great value wine with CK Mondavi. These wines are American owned, American grown, and American produced. While some of you might be thinking to yourself “big deal, all American wines are obviously American produced,” that’s not always the case. Actually, CK Mondavi is the only wine in its category that doesn’t bring in cheaper fruit from outside the US and all of its fruit is California grown. At just around $8 per bottle, these are a great value coming from a winery that has been family owned for four generations.
Like cider, beer also came courtesy of European emigrants. Though Native Americans were making beer prior to their arrival, the brewing traditions of European countries kept beer popular in the colonies.
D.G. Yuengling & Son
Maybe not the most exciting choice, but a solid one. A brewery unbeknownst to many outside the 16 east coast states it distributes to, it is also America’s oldest brewery first opened in 1829 by German emigrants. Yuengling produces around 2.5 million barrels annually and in 2011 was tied with the Boston Beer Company for the largest American-owned brewery, so it’s far from small. Even still, it is privately owned. Their Traditional Lager is the classic choice from them.
You can’t talk about American beverages without talking about bourbon, America’s native spirit. There are conflicting stories of just when and how bourbon was invented, but it is 100% American. It’s a common misconception that bourbon can only be made in Kentucky to be bourbon, but it can be made anywhere in the United States so long as it meets these requirements:
- Produced in the United States
- Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
- Aged in new, charred oak barrels
- distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)
- Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)
- Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)
George Washington Straight Rye Whiskey
Mount Vernon, VA
Technically this is a rye whiskey and not a bourbon, but I had to include this. This is made in a replica distillery on George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, where everything is done the hard way just as it was back in the 18th century. Distilling isn’t easy work today, but it was much harder back then. At one time, Washington’s Mount Vernon distillery was the largest in America and produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799. Five copper stills produced whiskey using a 60% rye, 35% corn and 5% malted barley mash bill, which was sold to neighboring farmers and in Alexandria.
The whiskey isn’t cheap at $185 per 375ml bottle, but you’re really drinking something special. You also need to visit Mount Vernon to pick it up on one of the rare days they release it. In the meantime, here are ten facts about George Washington’s distillery worth checking out.
But, wait, BOURBON! Here’s an actual bourbon we reccomend:
Breckenridge Distillery Bourbon
Courtesy of a 56% yellow corn, 38% green rye, and 6% unmalted barley mash bill and snowmelt water comes Breckenridge Bourbon. As the name suggests, this bourbon calls Breckenridge, CO home and it’s the world’s highest distillery at 9,600 feet above sea level. This bourbon is delicious and loaded with maple, oak, vanilla, caramel, raisins, and more. Seek it out.