hist-brewing: Harrison's Beer

Dennis Walker ansel at hom.net
Thu Sep 18 16:27:14 PDT 1997

I have been working to recreate Harrison's beer for some time; it 
is an on-going project to see how close it is possible to get to a 
medieval/period beer. It has been a great object lesson for me that 
medieval brewers understood, at least empirically, as much of the process 
as they did, and that they apparently produced, at least in some cases, 
beer that we would consider well-brewed.  
	Harrison's recipe is a very good one to work from, in my opinion, 
because of the level of detail given as to ingredients and procedures, 
the availability of the text, and the lateness of period (c. 1577), a 
time about which much additional guidance can be gathered from other 
sources as well.
	The level of detail in Harrison's recipe, and for that matter in 
his entire work, The Description of England, from which it is taken, is 
extraordinary. It is readable, clear, and fits in with most everything I 
have found about brewing and medieval brewing. There are plenty of texts 
available including the very accessable Edelen edition (1968) done for 
the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Furnival edition  of 1877-1908 
(called A Description of England in Shakespeare's Youth) upon which the 
Edelen edition is based. The advantage of the Edelen edition is that most 
any university library has it. The Furnival edition has the advantage of 
being clearly out of copyright, editorial comments and all.
There are many other references available to verify measurements, 
ingredients and techniques of the period.
	I have written up about twelve pages of material as I have 
progressed on this recipe which I will gladly share with anyone who is 
interested, including my thoughts on measurement conversion, ingredient 
substitution, techniques, etc.; I would appreciate critiques. 

	--Dennis Walker
	SCA: Ansel the Barrister

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