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Q: middle ages alcohol ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: middle ages alcohol
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: leibig-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 06 Jul 2006 10:50 PDT
Expires: 05 Aug 2006 10:50 PDT
Question ID: 743825
What alcoholic beverages did peasants drink in the fourteenth cetury in England?
Subject: Re: middle ages alcohol
Answered By: livioflores-ga on 06 Jul 2006 16:03 PDT

According to my research the most common beverages in the XIV century
in Englad was ale:
"The art of brewing has remained much the same since the invasion of
England some 2000 years ago. In the middle ages the most common drink
of the day was ale. Breakfast, of a chine of beef and a loaf of bread,
would have been accompanied by gallon of ale. Until 1400 the
ingredients of ale consisted of malted barley, water and yeast. The
ale was cloudy, full of protein and carbohydrate, making it a good
source of nutrition for peasant and noble man..."
From "History of beer and the English Inn":

"Because modern hygiene practices were in the distant future, drinking
milk and water would have been a risky proposition in the Middle Ages.
No one knew of the benefits of pasteurization or even just boiling. As
a result, no one drank the bacteria-laden milk or the water that was
most likely contaminated by garbage or even sewage. Instead, peasants
drank a diluted version of ale, a beverage made from fermented grains,
while people of noble birth tended to drink wine, often sweetened with
sugar and spices."
From "Grade 8 PASS: Unit 5 Using Information Resources - Research
Topic: The Middle Ages" at Louisiana Dept. of Education website: (see
page 12)

"As the end of the Middle Ages approached, the popularity of beer
spread to England, France and Scotland (Austin, pp. 118-119). Beer
brewers were recognized officially as a guild in England (Monckton,
1966, pp. 69-70), and the adulteration of beer or wine became
punishable by death in Scotland (Cherrington, 1929, vol. 5, p. 2,383).
Importantly, the consumption of spirits as a beverage began to occur
(Braudel, 1974, p. 171)."
"History of Alcohol and Drinking around the World":
Take a look to the Middle Ages chapter of this nice article.

"In most cottages, though, a bowl of milk was not as often seen on the
peasant's table as an earthenware jug of ale..."
From "Food in England Since 1066 -- A Vegetarian Evolution? - Part 1:
The Middle Ages":

Not specific from England but useful as a complementary source:
"Medieval peasants, on the other hand, had a much simpler diet
available to them. Most of the wheat they harvested went exclusively
to the market, and peasant breads were made from barley and rye, baked
into dark heavy loaves. Ales made from barley would quaff the thirst,
as would water drawn from the well, sweetened with honey."
"Medieval Food":

Another popular drink was mead, a drink made from fermented honey and
water.  See the following article:
"Mead: Man's First Alcohol?":

For additional references see:
"Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World,
1300-1600" by Judith M. Bennett at Questia Online Library:

"Tales of the Middle Ages - Inns and Taverns":

Search strategy:
england peasants drink "middle ages"
england peasants beverages "middle ages"
ale "middle ages" england
mead "middle ages" england

I hope this helps you. Feel free to request for a clarification if you
need it before rate this answer.

Subject: Re: middle ages alcohol
From: alanna-ga on 06 Jul 2006 15:54 PDT
For insight into the middle ages, a good guide is Chaucer's
"Canterbury Tales." Chaucer lived in the last half of the 14th Century
in what is now England ( ). His
characters drank ale, beer, and that old favorite, mead (a fermented
drink made from honey).See: which is an
encyclopedia of the foods and drinks referenced by Chaucer in his
writings. The peasants probably drank the humbler drinks that didn't
require expensive spices.

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