Medieval English Brews: Recipes for 13th and 14th Century Unhopped English Ales

Making ales using only medieval techniques and equipment. By Dr. Paul W. PlacewayAlumnus, Language Technologies InstituteCarnegie Mellon University Introduction In medieval England, ale was an alcoholic drink made from grain, water, and fermented with yeast. The difference between medieval ale and beer was that beer also used hops as an ingredient. Virtually everyone drank ale. It provided significant nutrition[…]

When Women Dominated the Beer Industry until Witch Accusations Poured In

Much of the iconography we associate with witches, from the pointy hat to the cauldron, originated from women working as master brewers. Introduction What do witches have to do with your favorite beer? When I pose this question to students in my American literature and culture classes, I receive stunned silence or nervous laughs. The[…]

A Trail in the Moselle Valley, Ancient Roman Wine Country

The Moselle River owes its name to the Romans, who called it Mosella or ‘little Meuse’. Introduction The Moselle Valley is Germany’s oldest winegrowing region. The Romans brought viticulture to this area and planted vines along the Moselle River 2000 years ago. After settling the region c. 50 BCE and establishing the city of Trier (Augusta Treverorum) in[…]

The Icy Backstory to that ‘Clink Clink’ You Hear When Toasting in the New Year

The history of ice in drinks goes back to antiquity but only really got going when a Bostonian started exporting ice to colonial India. Introduction If ever there was a year to toast drawing to an end, it’s 2020. Over the festive period, people around the world will be raising a glass to better times[…]

Chocolate Wine: Indulgent Drinking at Christmas in Georgian England

The ability to access new luxury goods was a sign of status. There are many indulgent foods that are synonymous with Christmas today, but two of the key ones must surely be chocolate and alcohol.  True, the turkey and its trimmings are Christmas classics, but it’s those festive extras – the champagne at breakfast, and[…]

The Evolution of Beer Induced Fun

Many of us love a tipple. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and gives us a false sense of confidence. For social situations, these are great effects. However, alcohol hasn’t always been exclusively a vehicle for getting us trolleyed. It’s been important for our very survival as a species. Yet, people throughout history have certainly enjoyed, and[…]

Brewing Beer in Ancient Mesopotamia

Beer was extremely popular in ancient Mesopotamia. Sipped through straws, it was enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Introduction People have been gathering over a beer for thousands of years. As an archaeologist, I can tell you the history of beer stretches deep into the human past – and the history of bars[…]

Drinking in Victorian and Edwardian Britain

People drank for many different reasons and these reasons ranged across social class, gender, and region. Introduction This offers different and sometimes contrasting perspectives on the reasons why alcohol was consumed and on the drinking cultures that emerged from the Victorian period. Alcohol played a key role in the everyday lives of men and women[…]

Victorian Alcohol Producers and Retailers

Selling alcohol in late Victorian Britain required a degree of cunning, ingenuity, and a leap of imagination. Introduction This provides three case studies of Victorian alcohol producers and retailers: Bass & Co, a major brewer based in Burton-upon-Trent; whisky producers James Buchanan and John Walker whose companies expanded the market for Scotch whisky in England[…]

Views of the Drunkard in Victorian England

Ideas about the drunkard fueled political and moral debates about the extent of liquor controls. Introduction This contains four parts that consider the way that Victorian alcohol consumers were imagined and represented in political discourse. The chapters draw upon the rich, qualitative and quantitative data found in the various parliamentary enquiries on alcohol that took[…]

American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

The prohibition, or “dry,” movement began in the 1840s, spearheaded by pietistic religious denominations, especially the Methodists. Introduction Prohibition In the United States (1920-1933) was the era during which the United States Constitution outlawed the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. The term also includes the prohibition of alcohol by state action at different[…]

Wine Culture in the Ancient Hellenistic Mediterranean

Viticulture, that is, the cultivation of grapes and the preparation of wine, can actually be traced back long before the Hellenistic Age. Introduction The culture of drinking wine was enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean world, and what is true now was true in antiquity, too: wine is always good business. The Hellenistic Period (c. 335-30 BCE),[…]

Anthesteria: A 3-Day Festival of Wine in Ancient Greece

The ancient Greek holiday of Anthesteria honored springtime and death. Introduction This ancient Greek holiday that you’ve probably never heard of was a three-day festival in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine. Everyone participated, including women, children, hired servants, and household slaves, and it featured excessive wine-drinking as part of the celebration of two[…]

How Prohibition Changed the Way Americans Drink – 100 Years Ago

The era of Prohibition, which began in 1920 and ended in 1933, left many legacies – more modest drinking was not among them. Introduction On Jan. 17, 1920, one hundred years ago, America officially went dry. Prohibition, embodied in the U.S Constitution’s 18th amendment, banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol. Yet it remained[…]

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder and What Is the Treatment?

Alcohol use disorder is also known as alcoholism. This is a condition where an individual has a physical need or a desire to drink alcohol even when its negative effects on their life are apparent. People with alcohol use disorders were called alcoholics in the past. But, this is now considered a negative and unhelpful[…]

Beer Archaeologists Are Reviving Ancient Ales — With Some Strange Results

The trouble with re-creating ancient brews is that it’s actually an impossible task. By Rae Ellen Bichell The closest that Travis Rupp came to getting fired from Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo., he says, was the time he tried to make chicha. The recipe for the Peruvian corn-based beer, cobbled together from bits of[…]

Flappers, G-Men, and Prohibition’s Legacies

Prohibition evokes vivid images from fiction and history. Originally published by Newberry Digital Collections for the Classroom, Newberry Library, republished with permission for educational, non-commercial purposes. Introduction Prohibition evokes vivid images from fiction and history: wild parties from The Great Gatsby, the Valentine’s Day gangland murders in Chicago, or presidential candidate Herbert Hoover’s 1928 comment, when[…]

Before Prohibition, Breweries Made Advertising an Art

From PBR to the champagne of beers, Wisconsin brands made their mark. On a dark night in rural Wisconsin, Miller marketing guru A. C. Paul gets lost in the Northwoods. No doubt having sampled his own wares, he staggers through the wilderness, trying in vain to find his way out. Then a beautiful woman appears[…]

Being and Drunkenness: How to Party Like an Existentialist

Sartre loved the imaginative playfulness that alcohol facilitated. Existentialism has a reputation for being angst-ridden and gloomy mostly because of its emphasis on pondering the meaninglessness of existence, but two of the best-known existentialists knew how to have fun in the face of absurdity. Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre spent a lot of time[…]

Rum, Hookers, and Smuggling: The Secret Story of Coolidge’s Visit to Cuba

By Christopher Woolf In 2016, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Coolidge was known as Silent Cal, a dour New Englander; an old fashioned puritan and a dedicated enforcer of Prohibition. So what was he doing in fun-filled Havana? He had a two-fold mission: to[…]