hist-brewing: Beer: Ales? & Lagers?

hdavis at ix.netcom.com hdavis at ix.netcom.com
Fri Jan 9 07:46:28 PST 1998

On 01/09/98 07:56:34 you wrote:
>> I believe that this is not a correct observation. For example, 15th and
>> 16th century English brewers definately defined "beere" and "ale"
>> differently. Beer was the imported lowland drink utilizing hops, where
>> English ale employed gruit. At various times during the post 1450
>> period, local English governments outlawed the use of hops. For example,
>> London outlawed the use of hops in 1577 only to rescind the prohibition
>> in 1578.
>> Conversely, the Einbeck tradition of brewing employed cooperative home
>> fermentation with the mayor blending the fermented wort as far back as
>> the 13th century.
>> Henry
>A most interesting post milord.  While conversant in brewing, I am 
>just now digging in to the history of it and would ask your sources 
>Ever looking to improve my library, Puck

A modern work written by a woman's studies professor gives a mostly woman-
centric view of brewing (as the title suggests) but with good balance. It is 
heavily footnoted with the primary sources that she used. Bennett focuses 
primarily on England during the period and pulls together a diversity of 
sources. It is an interesting book to read - more objective than I would 
have thought. I had the opportunity to talk with Professor Bennett while she 
was on sabbatical last year. One of the most valuable aspects of this book 
is that she has created a network of primary document researchers throughout 
England who helped her sift through massive numbers of records for specific 
types of information.

Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England : Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-
1600 by Judith M. Bennett Hardcover
                      Published by Oxford Univ Press
                      Publication date: September 1996
                      ISBN: 0195073908

Pamela Sambrook offers a later period view in her book. It's a fairly easy 
read with more information on the period 1700-1900 than the earlier times. 
Regardless, her book has a number of representative photos and engravings 
showing period brewing vessels and descriptions of procedures. Although the 
book is a bit light on pre 17th century brewing, it puts those techniques in 
perspective. Most importantly, Sambrook addresses Country House brewing in 
England quite thoroughly. From my other research, the house brewing 
tradition provides our best source of well documented tangible brewing 
procedures and equipment for the medieval period in England. It's difficult 
at best to connect documented brewing practices with specific equipment 
during the medieval period.

Country House Brewing in England 1500-1900 Hardcover
                       Published by The Hambledon Press
                       Publication date: 1996 
                       ISBN: 1852851279

An out-of-period publication date does not reduce the value of "The English 
Housewife" by Gervase Markham. Originally published in 1615, the work is 
really a series of translations and reprints of earlier work. In his book, 
Markham describes how to grow hops (ripped off in whole from an earlier 
work, which in turn was "borrowed" from an early 1500s book), how to make 
malt, the brewing process, and a number of receipes. I made copies form a 
university microfilm. There are several reprints available, including one 
printed in Montreal in 1986. Be careful about which manuscript that you use: 
there were at least three editions of Markham, each of which had some new or 
different material. The original clearly documented his view of late 16th 
century brewing - even if much of the material was borrowed from earlier 

William Harrison's "Description of England in Shakespear's YOuth" edited by 
F.J. Furnival (London 1877-81) provides a late period view of London - brews 
and drinking.

There are several publications by Sir Hugh Platt that are of value. In 1594 
he wrote "A Jewel House of Art and Nature" and in 1577 he published a book 
on hops and their cultivation.

The Domesday Book includes numerous references to beer and beer-making.

A book without references that makes a good link between current brewing and 
earlier pratices, "The Ale Trail" focuses on the Campaign for Real Ale 
(CAMRA). It covers many modern styles and traditional cask brewing 

The Ale Trail Hardcover
                           Published by Eric Dobby Publishing (Kent)
                           Publication date: 1995
                           ISBN: 1858820413

Late 17th works by two authors are frequently used by SCA brewers in the 

"The Closet of Kenelm Digby, Kt., Opened: whereby is Discovered several ways 
for making of Metheglin, Syder, Cheery-Wine, &c. TOgether with Excellent 
Directions for COOKERY: as also for Preserving, COnserving, Candying, &c." 
Digby (1677)

"A new Art of Brewing Beer, Ale and other Sorts of Liquors" THomas Tryon 

For an overview of low country beer production see:

Unger, Richard W. "The Scale of Dutch brewing, 1350-1600" Research in 
Economic History, 15 (1995) pp 261-292

Unger, Richard W. "Technical change in the brewing industry in Germany, the 
Low Countries, and England in the late middle ages" Journal of European 
Economic History 21 (1992) pp 281-313

Best of luck in learning some more of the history of brewing.


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