hist-brewing: Re: hist-brewing digest, Vol 1 #26 - 5 msgs

Randy Mosher rmosher at 21stcentury.net
Tue Dec 18 13:44:37 PST 2001

on 12/18/01 2:13 PM, hist-brewing-request at pbm.com at
hist-brewing-request at pbm.com wrote:

> As late as the mid 1800's brew masters in England kept track of the amount
> of "beer" (Hopped) they made, and the amount of "ale" (Unhopped). I hate
> adding the terms beer and ale into the fray, because someone will become
> offended and start going on about top fermenting and bottom fermenting
> yeasts. I am simply using the terms that the brewers used in their record
> keeping. Records of most of the estate breweries in the 1700's showed that
> in England, the ratio was about 3:1 Ale to Beer.
> Charley Atchley

By this time, references to beer and ale have more to do with strength than
hops or lack thereof. The "beer" referred to was "small beer," used as
refreshment and generally quite free use of servants and staff, while ale
was reserved for the landholding family's use, althought rationed out to
employees in a highly structured manner. Both counted as part of

Hopped beers were pretty much the rule in Britain by 1600 or so, although
pockets of primitive practice probably lingered in the countryside for a
while. Recipes I've seen from the 1500s invariably contain hops, although
many rustic recipes up until about 1880 also contain spices and herbs as
well (spices/herbs were prohibited in commercial beers from about 1750, I

There is an excellent book on the subject: "Country House Brewing in
England, 1500-1900) By Pamela Sambrook. FYI, the other current book on the
subject: "You Brew Good Ale," is kind of a mess, and almost impossible to

--Randy Mosher

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