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Curiosities of Ale & Beer: An Entertaining History

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Curiosities of Ale & Beer: An Entertaining History
By John Bickerdyke

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Publisher: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1889. Reprint:, 2008.
Hard Cover, 449 pages, 6x9.
Item #1326

Here is's reprint edition of John Bickerdyke's original 1889 book, Curiosities of Ale & Beer. When the author first began researching what he called "the antiquities of ale and beer," he was shocked to find that no comprehensive volume had ever been written on the subject. In 1889, Bickerdyke corrected that injustice with publication of this book. In the words of the author himself, his tome was responsible for "the bringing to light of many curious facts, so far as I am aware, never before noticed" about the role of ale and beer in the history of mankind.

Starting in ancient Egypt, Bickerdyke traces the evolution of beer and brewing up through the late 1800s. Along the way, he illuminates nearly every facet of beer’s colorful saga -- ancient recipes, hops and malt, beer laws and regulations, drinking customs, beer songs and ballads, "ale-wives," inns and taverns, porter and stout, ancient drinking vessels, brewers of old London, and much more. The book includes over 50 woodcut illustrations. What an incredible resource of brewing fun, fact and fancy!

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To make this rare brewing text more widely available, has reprinted the book. An 1889 first edition copy was digitally scanned, professionally enhanced, and reissued in a hard cover format. All pages are reproduced exactly as they appeared at the time of publication in 1889, including the more than 50 original woodcuts.


• Suppression of Beer-shops in Egypt 2,000 B.C.
• Brewing in a Teapot
• Ale Songs
• Distinction between Ale and Beer
• Ale
• Knights' objection to Sack
• Hogarth and Temperance
• Importance of Ale to the Agricultural Labourer
• Sir John Barleycorn introduced to the Reader

• Origin and Antiquity of Ale and Beer

• Home-brewed Ales
• Old Receipts
• Historical Facts
• Dean Swift on Home-brew
• Christopher North's Brew-house

• Use and Importance of Hops in Beer
• Their Introduction and History
• Hop-growers' Troubles
• Medicinal Qualities
• Economical Uses
• Hop-pickers

• Ancient and Curious Laws relating to the manufacture and sale of Ale and Beer

• Brewing and Malting in Early Times
• The Ale-wives
• The Brewers of Old London and the Brewers' Company
• Anecdotes
• Quaint Epitaphs

• Various Kinds of Ales and Beers
• Some Foreign Beers
• Receipts
• Songs
• Anecdotes

• Ale houses: Their origin
• Hospitality in Medieval Times
• Old London Inns and Taverns
• Anecdotes of Inns and Inn-keepers
• Curious Signs
• Signboard and Ale-house Verses
• Signboard Artists
• Ale-house Songs and Catches

• Ancient Merry-Makings, Feasts and Ceremonies peculiar to certain Seasons, at which Ale was the principal Drink
• Harvest Home, Sheep-shearing, and other songs

• The Ales
• Ale at Breakfast
• Bequest of Ale
• Drinking Customs
• A Sermon on Malt
• Excesses of the Clergy
• Anecdotes

• Old Ballads, Songs and Verses relating to Ale and Beer

• Brewing in the Present Day
• Anecdotal and Biographical Account of some representative London, Dublin, Burton and Country Brewing Firms
• Edinburgh Ales

• Porter and Stout
• Circumstances which led to their Introduction
• Value to the Working Classes
• Anecdotes
• "A Pot of Porter Oh!"

• Beverages compounded of Ale or Beer, with a number of Receipts
• Ancient Drinking Vessels
• Various Uses of Ale other than as a Drink

• Old Medical Writers on Ale
• Adulteration of Ale
• Advantages of Malt Liquors to Labouring Classes
• Temperance versus Total Abstinence
• Anecdotes
• Gay's Ballad

• Pasteur's Discoveries

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