"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy", Benjamin Franklin, 1685.
Slightly out of period but represents most people’s attitude toward alcoholic beverages from
the earliest recorded history until the advent of the temperance movement in the 19th century.
Alcoholic beverages may have even been one of the most important
agents in development of civilization because they:
- Are safer that the drinking water that was available,
- Provide psychotropic effects that helped make the living conditions tolerable,
- Are nutritious (especially beer), and
- Improve reproductive success.
- Beer is the second oldest alcoholic beverage known to man.
- In the Middle Ages, beer and ale were the common drink of all social classes in the north and east where few, if any, grapes were grown.
- It is highly nutritious (liquid bread).
- In Europe, distillation was known by the 12th century (possibly as early as the 11th century).
- The Norman English found distillation from grain firmly established in the form of a drink called
uisge beatha when they invaded Ireland in the twelfth century.
- Legal documents dating to 1411 mention the distillation of wine into brandy in the Armagnac region of France.
- The earliest mention of flavored alcohol is in the 13th century.
- By the 14th century the drinking of these liqueurs had become popular in Italy and spread into France.
This popularity is often attributed to Catherine de Medici, who, along with her Court,
brought the use of these liqueurs with her to France from her native Tuscany
- When Julius Caesar arrived in Kent, England in 55 BC, he found alcoholic cider to be a common drink.
Ceasar was rumored to be quite fond of the beverage, which perhaps had something to do with the great contributions the Romans made to apple cultivation.
- As a result of the Roman invasion, many fled from England to Brittany, taking apple seeds and cider making knowledge with them.
- From Brittany, cider making spread to Normandy and back the England with the Norman Conquest of 1066.
- Mead, the most ancient of all alcoholic beverages. Its origins can be traced back to the African bush more than 20,000 years ago.
- In Norse mythology, mead was the favorite drink of the Norse gods and heroes.
- Mead has a long history in Europe and is mentioned in such writings as Beowulf.
- From the number of recipes in period cookbooks, mead must have been a very popular beverage.
- In the Middle Ages, wine was the common drink of all social classes in the south, where grapes were cultivated.
- Wine was rarely aged during the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe.
Fats and Oils