hist-brewing: Hop use in Medieval England

Dan Pillsbury lordofbrewing at webtv.net
Fri Feb 13 17:43:07 PST 1998

Here's a tantalizing passage from Bickerdyke's "The Curiosities of Ale
and Beer" 1965 edition pg. 66...

"That the hops was known to the English before the Conquest in some form
or other, is proved by the reference to the hymele , or hop plant, in
the Anglo-Saxon version of the Herarium of Apuleius.  Although no trace
of the word hymele now remains in our every-day language, it is found in
Danish as "humle," and is only the English form of the Latin humulus.
The Herbarium just mentioned contains a remarkable passage with referene
to "hymele." "This wort," it says, "is to that degree laudable that men
mix it with their usual drinks." (note: in this instance wort is
referring to the plant used, not wort as in beer, in herb talk wort
means plant or herb) The usual drinks of the English were undoubtedly
malt liquors, and this passage would go far to show that even in Saxon
times the hops was used in English brewing. Cockayne, the learned editor
of "Saxon Leechdoms," is inclined to this opinion, and he instances in
confirmation of it that special mention is made of hedge-hymele, as
though there existed at that time a cultivated hop from which it had to
be distinguished. 
(skip ahead a bit on same page)
"In the year 822 there is a record that the millers of Corbay were freed
by the abbot from all labours relating to hops, and a few years later
hops are mentioned by Lucovicus Germanicus."

Irrefutable evidence?? Nah, just an interesting tidbit and perhaps food
for thought.

Cheers and happy reading
Dan P. aka Aidan
Lonely Tower 

Happily Homebrewing in Omaha

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