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Household Brewing


Around 1750 more than 60% of beer production was brewed at home. By 1830, the advent of the new beerhouses (P13), a little under half of all beer was still brewed at home. Large estates down to small farmers brewed for their households and their agricultural labourers. Some farmers appearing as witnesses before the Select Committee on Malt Tax in 1867 still brewed for their labourers, at a time contemporary with the Wheatsheaf.


Only ten years later the Excise Records show duty being paid on as little as 560,000 bushels of malt made in England and Wales, sold to users other than for brewing beer for sale. That was at a time when the Lichfield Excise Collection, which included Burton-on-Trent, recorded 6.3 million bushels of malt.


Research for this exhibition has shown that almost one in ten dwellings shown on the Tithe Map 1844, were then, had been, or were about to become beerhouses or alehouses.


By 1876, when you could run round to a beerhouse like the Wheatsheaf (P28), fill your jug, and take it home, there was no longer any incentive to brew at home. However Gertrude Jekyll, in her 1904 book on West Surrey, stated that farmers and even cottagers commonly brewed their own beer. It seems therefore that it was the first World War which ended he centuries long practice of home brewing - only to be revived again in the "sustainable gardening" era of the 1970s.


Before the 1750s large country households are said (Home Brewing: the CAMRA Guide) to have brewed every fortnight, then weekly for haymaking and harvest. Huge quantities were brewed for Christmas and other special occasions. Smaller households also brewed their own beer.


In her book "Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England" (OUP 1996) Judith M Bennett, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, explains that Brewster was the name for females, and brewer for males. The word brewster has now finally disappeared from active useage in the English language when Brewster Sessions held in the Magistrate Courts were replaced by Local Authority licences. This gender distinction had faded by about 1500, but before that most brewing, whether for home consumption or for trade, was carried out by women. We have evidence of this in our court rolls for Yateley.


The following pages explores the role of household brewing in Yateley from about 1600 to the 1830 Beerhouse Act.



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Original page written by P J Tipton for the Yateley Society's 1997 Exhibition: Inns, Alehouses & Maltsters

Additional research by Richard Johnston, Elizabeth Tipton & Norma Dowling

Original page has now been revised to include the Society's latest Research

(c) The Yateley Society, 1997 & 2008


Page Exhib.1997.26

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