James R. Brown
Journal of the Brewery History Society, No.135 (2010)
For some years now early modernists have been in their cups. With a wave of recent studies about public drinking spaces and cultures, we now have a fuller sense of the very large extent to which alcohol was embedded within communities in both town and countryside throughout sixteenth- and seventeenth- century Europe. Brewers themselves, however, have not benefited from these developments as fully as might be expected. Reflecting the priorities of a ‘consumption turn’, most work on prein- dustrial intoxicants has yielded accounts of retail venues, drinking behaviours and sociability in which issues of production and supply are marginal or absent.
A separate literature has developed around renaissance beer and its manufacture, but these studies either use brewhouses as ‘laboratories’ for specific questions within the sub-fields of gender, immigration, local government and the history of technology, or offer surveys of beer- brewing that range widely over space and time but permit little sustained engagement with particular terrains. Where detailed, thematically comprehensive studies of beer-making in specific locales do exist, they have so far focused on the metropolis, on regional cultures outside of Britain, or on the pre-1500 or post-1700 period.