I had a lot of fun researching this book, and though I talk very little of beer in the Alchemy series (its mostly about the magick wine in these books), I did read up on the relationship between beer and witchcraft. Found a lot of great articles, but this was super fun and informative from Lazy Historian, detailing how women traditionally crafted beer, but when they started to make a little money, some of the guys got mad. And well…let the witchery accusations begin!
In western Europe, beer brewing and consumption was originally reserved for at-home activities. However, once women moved outside of the home and started making a healthy income from selling beer, men were not happy and decided to end it. Because of course they did. During the 1500s and 1600s, women were gradually forced out of the business. In a political move that is still used today, men painted the ambitious women as incapable of doing the job and created a propaganda campaign against them—one that has lasted for hundreds of years. They were painted as scary, nasty, and untrustworthy women.
Mother Louise, an alewife in 1600s Oxford An independent woman was a dangerous woman. To stand out in a crowd on market day, these women wore tall, pointed, black hats. It was a clever, old-timey marketing ploy. There, they stood at their cauldrons and sold their goods. While in their shops, brewsters signaled their shop as open by hanging a broomstick outside above the door. In addition, cats were regularly employed by brewsters and alewives to keep rodents out of the storehouses. Sound familiar? This propaganda campaign against brew-HERS (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t help it) even turned customers away by persuading the locals—particularly men—that these women were using charms or spells to trick people into buying their beer and drinking too much.