Women dominated beer production until they were accused of witchcraft

During the Inquisition, brewers were accused of using their cauldrons to brew magic potions instead of the brew.

Beer is believed to have emerged from the cultivation of cereals between the 11th and 7th centuries BC in Mesopotamia. What not everyone knows is that evidence points out that  the manufacture and sale of the drink was a trade practiced by women for centuries. From the Egyptians to the Vikings, they brewed beer both for religious ceremonies and to produce a practical and calorie-rich food for the home.

Pointed hats and cauldrons

From the Stone Age until the 1700s, beer was a staple food for most families in Europe. As the drink was an important part of the diet, its fermentation was one of the women’s everyday household chores. Some of them took this skill to the market and started selling beer.  Widows or single women also used their knowledge in the area to earn some extra money, while married women sold beer in partnership with their husbands.
Antique illustration of women drinking beer

In the 16th century,  women who traded in beer wore tall, pointed hats  so their customers could see them in the crowded market. They also carried their brew in cauldrons and used to keep cats in the house to keep mice away from the grain. This time was also marked by the height of the Inquisition, a court formed by the Catholic Church to condemn and punish heretics, people accused of deviating from the norms of conduct.

During this period, men who brewed and marketed beer saw an opportunity to reduce competition. They accused the brewers of practicing witchcraft and using their cauldrons to brew magic potions instead of brew. Over time, it became dangerous for women to brew and sell beer,  as they could be identified as witches. In the 1500s, many towns made it illegal for women to sell beer, putting an end to an ancient tradition.

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