Wine, Mead, Beer, Ale…. Scotch?

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  NYCowboy04 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #15846

    attackdonkey
    Participant

    I'm new and I haven't caught up yet in the podcast series but so far I'm lovin' it! I just finished the show on Wine, Beer, Mead, and Ale. And it was super awesome! I'm so glad to hear that I'm not putting myself at any health risk by drinking a mere 1/2 gallon of beer a day! it's a little late now, and it is just an assumption, but the Monks that drank 2 gallons of beer a day didn't go all day without a drink until 10 Oclock at night and then pour 2 gallons down their gullet! they were drinking from the time they finished morning prayers until they went to sleep… right? That should put it into context a little more, which is my preferred method of drinking good beer. Which leads to another contrast that maybe you could point out a little better than me. how are the beers of back then or the good beers of today different than say a Budweiser or a Coors besides the obvious taste and alcohol content? what are the nutritional differences? why did I always feel like I was going to die when in college I drank a bunch of CoorsLight but even when I drink a lot, like for Reformation day, does it not seem to bother me at all when it is Craft beer or Home brew? Lastly and perhaps most importantly, do you have a bias? I know you did the Scotscast but is that it? I mean you touched on the drinks of that time, but what about Scotch? I can understand if you didn't mention it because it will come up later, and maybe you've already covered it... I hope so. I don't know for sure but Scotland is the birthplace of Whiskey/whisky right?

  • #19062

    Jamie
    Keymaster

    As far as I know, Scotch doesn't appear in the record until the 15th century.  Though I haven't done extensive research on it, so there might be a few earlier indications.  So it's well outside of our timeline right now. ;)As for the beer... it was weak.  Very weak.  Probably much closer to Wort than actual beer.  Basically, it was just a safer way to drink water.  Heh.

  • #19063

    anonymous
    Participant

    There is a really detailed article on making medieval ale herehttp://www.cs.cmu.edu/~pwp/tofi/medieval_english_ale.htmlA real craft. Monks would have drunk with meals(only two per day remember) as well, much depended on the day and the fasts of the religious calendar. 5 litres a day is mentioned in some sources (although I haven't been able to verify that, and it would surely have been at the top end of consumption)http://www.thefinertimes.com/Middle-Ages/food-in-the-middle-ages.htmlTo be honest we are absolute light weights in drinking terms compared to most periods of history.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4493442.stm And the navy used Rum heavily to replace the beer that spoiled easily: check outhttp://www.webhistoryofengland.com/?p=677Yes, half a pint of rum every day, which might then be diluted to form grog. Think about that. Half a pint doesn't sound a lot, but then get your head round drinking half a pint of rum. Take a nice frosty pint glass and half fill it with rum. then fill the other half with lemon juice and water. Then drink it when hot/cold, climbing masts, hauling ropes and running the guns in and out. Then do that every day. Three Sheets to the wind indeed!Now imagine being a Victorian in squalid parts of London; gin lane, easy girls, disease and plenty of spirits. There is no way a modern, unpractised person would keep up with the consumption levels of previous periods without length habituation periods. I don't know anyone who could knock back a bottle of port, let alone several. Modern light beers like Coors would probably be seen as sort of like weak water.

  • #19064

    iain
    Participant

    I always understood that whiskey (Irish spelling) was originally an Irish drink – but I have no evidence to support this

  • #19065

    anonymous
    Participant

    http://www.whisky.com/history.html suggests Jamie may be right with the earliest documented evidence of distilling in Scotland though also suggests that our old friend St Patrick first introduced it to Ireland in the 5th century.Incidentally, the actor Brian Cox did a great series of documentaries for the BBC our "addictive pleasures" including one on whisky (being a Scot, I'll use the Scottish spelling).  This included some good information on the history of the drink.  It's amazing how recently the current perception of whisky as an expensive, high quality drink (especially single malts) is.  It can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=472olMK4U_QOh and just a dash of water in my dram for me!Pete.

  • #19066

    JamesS
    Participant

    From my research into brewing history in England, most estates and monasteries would brew several different types of beer for different reasons.  One of the strongest (what we would call a strong ale or barley wine today) would be made for special occasions and for the heads of the house and head of the monastery.  While brewing this strong ale, they would make a “small ale” from the run off, which would be quite weak.  This beer was given out for more of an every day drink.  The more standard beer made was also quite weak (by weak, I'm talking around the 3-4% range), which was their main (along with the small ale) drink.So the "wort" beer Jamie mentions fits in with this.  Also, if you live in the US and want to try a "small beer" that really is made from the remains of a barleywine, Anchor Steam occasionally puts it out, using the remains of what they made their Foghorn barleywine with.Also, please keep in mind I'm going from memory on this, so the alcohol percentage above may be off, but the general idea is not.  Also, my information on the history of this comes from a later time in history, starting at least a few hundred years in the future of when this podcasts talks about.

  • #19067

    Sprocket
    Participant

    @post donkeyI could not agree more, these are some of my favorites.  And I was thinking about scotch the whole time myself. 

  • #19068

    NYCowboy04
    Participant

    Background: I sell whisk(e)y for a living, and have 2 degrees in history and am an all-around nerd. While there's no difinitive start date to distillation, the popular agreement is that it was a Muslim invention within the study of alchemy. (Side note: any word that starts with "al," such as alchemy, algebra, etc. were Muslim in origin). And this obsession with alchemy didn't start until much later, some say during the 11th century. I seem to recall some references to alchemy in the writings of either Judah Halevy or Ibn Daud, in 11th-12th century Spain/al Andalus, but its been a while since I looked at their stuff and maybe I'm just imagining it. That's all to say that the legend of our favorite Irish bishop bringing distillation to Ireland in the 5th century, I can almost guarantee, is false, as the technology wouldn't be around for another 500 years or so.  Does that mean the Irish weren't the first of the islands to make hooch? It's still entirely possible, but wouldn't have happened till much later than legend has it.

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