hist-brewing: Pre-1600 Nautical Drinks

Bruce R. Gordon obsidian at raex.com
Fri Sep 21 19:51:00 PDT 2001


Greetings
	If by "period" you mean "pre-1600", I'm afraid you're out of luck. 
Although cane plantations were being established in the West Indies by 
the mid 16th century, the notion of using raw molasses as a distillate 
base doesn't seem to have occured to anyone real quickly. The earliest 
unambiguous reference to a rum product is a brew variously refered to as 
Kill-Devil or Rumbullion, made in Barbadoes around 1650. It caught on 
quick; by 1667 it was just "Rum", and was being produced in several 
places. The sailor's ration of grog was started in the early 18th 
century (didn't stop until 1970, I believe). Before 1600, sailors drank 
ale or wine, just like everyone else. I suspect that because of how 
quickly period ales go bad, that fortified wines such as Port, Madeira, 
and Malmsey were used extensively; but I have no documentation directly 
at hand for that suspicion.

Bruce R. Gordon


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