hist-brewing: Re: Thrifty Ale Wives

adam larsen euphonic at flash.net
Fri Apr 28 15:41:54 PDT 2000

    Thank you for your post, it recalled similar pleasant experiences i've
had. Hence,  I've read it with great interests.
    As to your question regarding the Sykes book you may be pleased to that
efforts are afoot to republish it in a very small run.  Although the project
is in it's formative stages i thought it worth mentioning although their is
no way to prepurchase a copy yet. Unfortunately, I returned the text to it's
owner almost two weeks ago.  As a result, i can't help you with the
gardening aspects you mentioned.  It is apparent that i was mistaken to have
thought that herb cultivation was outside of the readership's interests.
    Your comments regarding the Yorkshire bar remind me of how all this
obsolete ale bother started.  Some friends of mine were headed off to see an
Ultima Thule show when we stopped off nearp Bromwitch to see a friend of
Filby's.  I As it so happened we dipped into bed & breakfast inn of sorts
for our appointment and received several wonderful varieties of  mulled and
gruit ales made by the elderly residents.  My companions provided me with an
introduction to the brewers.  Needless to say they were rather taken aback
to find that a foreigner was interested in their craft.  Over time, their
grandson, George Donnsby, became a good friend who helped me in my brewing
    Your other comments seem reasonable as well.


Deborah Wood wrote:

> The book Thrifty Ale Wives written by Skye, contained information on the
> cultivation of gruit herbs. do you still have access to the book in
> question?
> I would like to plant gruit herbs on a woodlot that I own ( growing area
> 4 b)
> as you can see I live in the north!
> Once when I was studying in England, I was taken by friends to a sort of
> un-official bar, run out of the living room of  2 very old maiden ladies
> in a northern Yorkshire village. The place was known as Nellie's, the 2
> very old ladies brewed their own and seved it from a 1/2 door opening
> into their living room. This is the closest that I will probably ever
> get to the long standing tradition of the Ale Wives.
> Women did not have the right to buy beer at Nellies, only men. The beer
> I sampled that night  was a most unusual, real ale, very young, fruity
> yeast, a vestige
> of an old tradition.
> I think that for the yeast to be used to re- create an old recipie
> you would need a hardy, fruity, top fermenting strain, resistant to
> alchol, probably
> a multi-strain yeast, as the yeast would mutate as it was re-used over a
> long
> period of time. Wooden vessels used for fermentation would build up
> (house cultures) over time, and spontaneous fermentation could be a
> strong possibility.
> I once looked with my microscope at a lambic culture that got a best of
> show,
> and found 3 or 4 different yeasts, and of course lacto bacillus, or
> breteromyces.
> I spoke a few months later to the man who had brewed it. He stated that
> every thing he brewed at home now contained that mixed yeast culture, no
> matter what yeast he pitched, as the lambic culture now lived in his
> home.
> Deborah Wood

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