This article appeared in the very first edition of "The Penny Magazine" March 31st 1832. The paper was a new idea aimed at educating the growing working class in a country that was undergoing rapid industrialisation.
The Antiquity of Beer:
The general drinks of the Anglo-Saxons were ale and mead: wine was a luxury for the great. In the Saxon Dialogues preserved in the Cotton Library in the British Museum, a boy, who is questioned upon his habits and the uses of things, says, in answer to the inquiry what he drank "Ale if I have it, or water if I have it not." He adds, that wine is the drink "of the elders and the wise." Ale was sold to the people, as at this day, in houses of entertainment; for a priest was forbidden by a law to eat or drink at ceapealethetum, literally, places where ale was sold. After the Norman conquest, wine became more commonly used; and the vine was extensively cultivated in England. The people, however, held to the beverage of their forefathers with great pertinacity; and neither the juice of the grape nor of the apple were ever general favourites. Of a favourite wassail or drinking-song of the fifteenth century, the burden was
"Bring us home good ale."
"The old ale knights of England," as Camden calls the sturdy yeomen of this period, knew not, however, the ale to which hops in the next century gave both flavour and preservation. Hops appear to have been used in the breweries of the Netherlands in the beginning of the fourteenth century. In England they were not used in the composition of beer till nearly two centuries afterwards. It has been affirmed that the planting of hops was forbidden in the reign of Henry VI.; and it is certain that Henry VIII. forbade brewers to put hops and sulphur into ale. In the fifth year of Edward VI., the royal and national taste appears to have changed; for privileges were then granted to hop-grounds. Tusser, in his 'Five hundred Points of good Husbandry, ' printed in 1557, thus sings the praises of this plant:
"The hop for his profit I thus do exalt,
It strengtheneth drink and it flavoureth malt;
And being well-brewed long kept it will last,
And drawing abide, if ye draw not too fast."
In the reign of James I. the plant was not sufficiently cultivated in England for the consumption; as there is a statute of 1608 against the importation of spoiled hops. In 1830 there were 40,727 acres occupied in the cultivation of hops in Great Britain.
Of barley, there are now above thirty million bushels annually converted into malt in Great Britain; and more than eight million barrels of beer, of which four-fifths are strong beer, are brewed yearly. This is a consumption, by the great body of the people, of a favourite beverage, which indicates a distribution of the national wealth, satisfactory by comparison with the general poverty of less advanced periods of civilisation in our own country, and with that of less industrious nations in our day
I spent 90% of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted - George Best