If you're really getting into the Presidents' Day spirit, you should be drinking one of the Ales of the Revolution from Philadelphia's Yards Brewing. These aren't just beers featuring the handsome mugs of our founding fathers; they're actually ales based on the recipes brewed in the Revolutionary era.
Steve Mashington from Yards fills us in:
We found the recipes in variety of texts from colonial times. The General Washington [Tavern Porter] was found in the NY Public Library and it was his recipe for small beer. Washington had sent this recipe to his officers in the field during the Revolutionary War. You can find information about Thomas Jefferson and his brewing tradition here. Using the resources we obtained from Monticello we compiled a recipe. The Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce was from a group of letters that Franklin wrote that outlined the use of spruce in ale.
So how do they taste? The most Presidents' Day-appropriate choice, General Washington's Tavern Porter, has a nice balance of coffeelike roast, and softer cocoa flavors. It's slightly sweet up front—the addition of molasses is noticeable but not heavy—but lovely and dry on the finish, with a lingering roasty flavor. There's a bit of classic porter sourness to this beer, which keeps it all balanced. We really enjoyed this beer, and would recommend serving it with chili or barbecue.
Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce is brewed with spruce tips and sprigs—it takes "piney" to a new level. The scent is spicy, with a hint of cloves, and the flavor is deeply woodsy. It has a rich full malty mouthfeel, but it's definitely not an everyday beer.
We liked Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale, too, though we had to wonder about its strength. At 8% ABV, this is no classic long-session beer. It's full-bodied and malty, with tons of caramel up front (though a tinge of alcohol peeks through.) This earthy beer is intensely flavorful, but if you have more than one, you might have to declare a four-day weekend.
Disclosure: We received these beers as samples for review.