The production of Beer and Ale through the process of brewing was an essential part of life in the seventeenth century. It was in this period that industrialised breweries began to develop. Prior to this it had primarily been a cottage industry and the domain of women and particularly in rural areas this was an important part of every day life.
The reason for its importance is not that England was a nation of alcoholics, being ‘drunk’ was a ‘taboo’ and being caught was likely to earn you a stay in the stocks. The Beer that was rationed to soldiers and served in households was ‘Small Beer’, produced from the last pressing of the mash and contained very little alcohol. However unlike the water in this period it was safe to drink.
Networks of Inns had developed since the use of the horse and coach for long distance travel. By the seventeenth century England had ale houses, taverns, tippling and victualing houses. Unsurprisingly a whole raft of licensing laws developed to go with them.
Whilst Beer and Ale were predominant, cider was very important in the Westcountry, as was Perry in the Welsh Marches. Mead was still drunk, although in small quantities. Spirits were widely available but their use appears to have been considered for mostly ‘medical’ purposes. Wine was also considered to have medicinal properties, although it is likely that it was drunk for pleasure particularly by the wealthy.
Brewsters and victullers would have been drawn to the armies of the seventeenth century in order to make a profit from the soldiers. In part the armies would have encouraged this. Taverns would have been busy and noisy places, a central hub of the community they served.
Out ‘Tavern Tent’ is a representation of this function in our encampment, where you will find soldiers and civilians alike. See games being played and have a go yourself, also talk to us about daily life, politics, games or drink.