Brewing at Home
In mid-eighteenth century England and Colonial America, instruction such as these could be found in a common domestic handbook. Brewing beer was a practice that was common enough in country homes to be included in catch-all manuals like The Country Housewife’s Family Companion..., at left. It was a part of typical domestic duties, as beer was the drink of choice for men, women, and children. It was considered a safe alternative to water, in both England and the colonies.
This particular account is thorough, first discussing how difficult it is to get good malt, and how “the bright hops of last year’s growth are best” and finally, what kind of water makes the best tasting beer. The author also made an argument about keeping utensils “clean and sweet” to avoid “poisonous damage” and “a sickish nasty taste”.
This page shows the end of the brewing section in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. It appears to have been put in the section with other recipes that rely on yeast. The brewing section ends with these troubleshooting instructions for sour beer: “Some throw in a piece of chalk as big as a turkey’s egg..”
"Rules for Brewing" in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy lists a common recipe for beer: malt, yeast, barley, hops, and water. The instructions were not for the inexperienced –it is written like many kitchen recipes of the time, where it was assumed that the cook has a firm grasp on the basics and could figure things out for the specific conditions of her own household.
Hops had become popular in England in the sixteenth century and lengthened the lifespan of beer. While hops grew in the wild in Massachusetts, it took several years before the colonists started to use New England hops along with the European varieties they continued to import. The ability to keep beer longer made it easier to transition from small-batch brewing to the larger breweries that began to pop up in the next century.
The Industry Grows