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”.

The country housewife's family companion... ; p. 379

Ellis, William, approximately 1700-1758. The country housewife's family companion, or, Profitable directions for whatever relates to the management and good œconomy of the domestick concerns of a country life, according to the present practice of the country gentleman's, the yeoman's, the farmer's &c. wives... London: Printed for James Hodges at the Looking-Glass, facing St. Magnus Church, London-Bridge; and B. Collins, Bookseller, at Salisbury, 1750. 

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..”

The art of cookery made plain and easy... ; p. 299

Glasse, Hannah, 1708-1770. The art of cookery made plain and easy : which far exceeds any thing of the kind yet published : containing ... : to which are added one hundred and fifty new and useful receipts, and also fifty receipts for different articles of perfumery : with a copious index. London: Printed for W. Strahan, J. Rivington and Sons, S. Crowder ... [and 27 others], MDCCLXXVIII [1778] 

"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 art of cookery made plain and easy... ; p. 297

Glasse, Hannah, 1708-1770. The art of cookery made plain and easy : which far exceeds any thing of the kind yet published : containing ... : to which are added one hundred and fifty new and useful receipts, and also fifty receipts for different articles of perfumery : with a copious index. London: Printed for W. Strahan, J. Rivington and Sons, S. Crowder ... [and 27 others], MDCCLXXVIII [1778] 

The Industry Grows