From the HBD Archive
Subject: More historical info, plus sources
Date: 1990-03-19 22:27:00 GMT

Hi, All!

My thanks to those who wrote me following my last posting; glad you all
enjoyed it!

That posting, and the other info regarding "Ninkasi", prompted a number of
people to address further questions to me, including a request for a list of
my sources. Posting directly to this forum is the easiest way for me to

As I believe I mentioned previously, ancient brewing was often related to
bread-baking, this being a source of both yeasts and malted grains. This
trend/link continued throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

Brewing yeasts began to be cultured and refined around 1500 BC. How? Simple:
think of the recently-cited "Ninkasi" recipes, of bread, water, and dates/date
sugars thrown together. Now, think of that taking place in an unglazed
ceramic vessel, and you have your answer. The yeasts inhabited the unglazed
interior of the fermenting vessels, starting batch after batch of ale (a' la
sourdough bread), with it being a simple matter to inoculate a fresh vessel at
the same time as a fresh batch of ale.

Addition of herbs and spices to brews is as old as brewing, and there are
other herbs, such as rosemary and betony, which were known to contribute
preservative effects. Hops was known as a strong medicinal, and was begun
being added to brews in Northern Europe in about the 8th century.

Malting as we think of it came along in the Middle Ages, hand-in-hand with the
monasteries. It is during this period that many of the great brew styles
(especially, of course, the "abbey styles"!) were developed.

Why we have a tendency to assume these brews were developed much later is,
again, quite simple. By the end of the 17th century, many of the larger
commercial breweries still in existance were being established. By the mid-
late-18th century, wines were becoming decent to drink, and affordable. And,
during this same period, the monasteric breweries were establishing brewpubs
of their own-- why miss out on all that profit? :-)

The end result: the change in commercial availability of brews came about at
the same time as that for wines, and most people tend to lump them together in
their thinking and assume that the brews developed at the same time the wines
did. Not so, much to my own surprise no less than anyone else's!

Below is a list of some of my sources. Titles preceded by an asterisk (*) are
out of print and/or difficult to obtain. People may continue to feel free to
write me with questions.


*_Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books_, ed. by Thomas Autin, Oxford Univ
Press, London, 1964

_Sallets, Humbles, and Shrewsbury Cakes_ by Ruth Anne Beebe, David R. Godine,
publ. Boston, MA, 1976

_1776: The Compleat American Housewife_ by Julianne Belote, Nitty Gritty
Prod., Concord, MA 1974

*_The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt., Opened_, Sir
Kenelme Digbe, London, 1669 (NOTE: I have a facsimile copy)

_Pepys at Table_, Christopher Driver and Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, Bell and
Hyman, London, 1984

_The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices_, Sarah Garland, Viking Press, NY, 1979

_Lost Country Life_ by Dorothy Hartley, Pantheon Books, NY, 1979

_The Simon & Schuster Pocket Guide to Beer_, by Michael Jackson, Simon &

*_Dining with William Shakespeare_ by Madge Lorwin, Atheneum, NY, 1976

*_Delightes for Ladies_, Sir Hugh Plat, London, 1609 (NOTE: I have a
facsimile copy)

_Magic and Medicine of Plants_, Reader's Digest, Reader's Digest Assoc.,
Pleasantville, NY, 1986

_Herbs and Things_, Jeanne Rose, Grosset and Dunlap, NY, 1972

*_To the King's Taste_, by Lorna J. Sass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, 1975

*_To the Queen's Taste_, by Lorna J. Sass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY,

_Food in History_, by Reay Tannahil, Stein and Day, NY, 1973 and 1988

Yours in Carbonation,


"The first cup of coffee recapitulates phylogeny." -- Anon.

Gainesville, FL

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