Facts about Drinking in the Middle Ages
Beer is one of the oldest drinks in the world. For centuries, beer-making fell into the realm of women and taking care of the home. The decline of female brewers in the 17th century is related to witch hunting (alewives wore distinctive point tall hats and brewed large amounts of beer in large vessels).
Here are some facts about beer in the Middle Ages, by a beer expert and a medieval curator
1) Beer-making was part of life in the Middle Ages. Calendars center on making of bread and making of beer in the Labors of the Month.
2) This detail from a prayer book shows a man making a barrel. In the Middle Ages, “your prayers begin and end with the thought of drink.”
3) MYTH: People in the Middle Ages drank beer and wine because of lack of access to water. It was more complicated than that—the relationship to consuming fluids was related to health and your body’s fluid.
4) Humoral theory was a system of medicine developed in antiquity that taught that the human body contained a mix of four humors: black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phelgm. In medieval times, you’d go to the alchemist and based on your zodiac sign and your ailment, you might be told a certain fluid is off balance.
5) It was also thought that the position of the planets and the moon could affect the body.
6) Cups, goblets, and drinking horns were trendy in the Middle Ages.
7) Many contained messages or encouraged drinking. One in the Getty Museum collection reads, “Welcome to my house. Put me to your lips and drink me dry. Don’t take contentment away.”