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Women in Beer

The Kings Arms has been managed by an outstanding female, Jodie, for the best part of 10 years. The pub has never been in a stronger position as a result of her understanding and drive to gain knowledge about beer.

She thrives on conversations surrounding cask, real ale and craft beers and her passion has allowed The Kings Arms to become a feature as one of London top pubs. International Women's Day 2022 allows us to celebrate her amazing work and learn about other figureheads in the women's beer industry.

The 'Beat the Bias' theme seems quite fitting as below Jodie explores the development of Women's influence in the beer industry.

Beer has been drunk by us humans for nearly 7000 years, with the original brewers being women. It was brewed for religious reasons as well as just to drink at home. It was a nun Hildegard von Bingen who talked about hops and decided to add it to her beer. Beer provided a good source of nutrients hence becoming an important part of their diet. Most women found that fermenting became one of their household jobs, bit like hoovering is for us. Widows and the single ladies took their beers and sold them in the markets and married women would go into business with their husbands.

In the middle ages you would often see women in the markets wearing pointy hats and standing by a big pot (cauldron if you will). No, I know what you’re thinking these witches these were not were brewers or Brewster’s as we became known as. The pointy hats were worn so that in a crowded marketplace they could be spotted. Just as women were making their mark in the industry the reformation began. This was a religious movement that preached stricter gender norms and condemned witchcraft.

So, men decided to take advantage of this movement to sell more of their beer. They called us Brewster’s witches and that we were not making beer but were making potions. As the rumours spread women became scared to produce beer as being classed as a witch could cause them to be sent to prison or killed.

Although a lot of men did not believe this rubbish, they did believe that brewing took up too much time and took away from raising a family and the normal domestic chores. In some towns like Chester in the 1500s it was made illegal for women to brew beer as they thought that young ale wives would grow up to be spinsters...

The story will continue...



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