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September 10, 2010

Discover the History of Two Guilty Pleasures During Colonial Williamsburg’s Beer Brewing Mysteries

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 and 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 from 10 a.m. to 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.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121