Friday, 4 January 2013

Look into the Pewter Pot

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-Benjamin Franklin

Just when the rest of the world is pondering knocking off the beer for a whole month, I'm pondering dipping my toe into the world of home brewing. I'm quite keen on making sloe gin and cherry brandy but I'm well aware that these tipples, delicious as they are, are just infusions. I have the urge to make like Tom and Barbara and get cracking with the peapod Burgundy. I actually bought wine making equipment a few years ago but chickened out of making wine because my family of naysayers thought the enterprise to be extremely dumb assed.

Of course, back when a weak an feeble woman could fight off the Spanish Armada whilst looking like a sexy, windswept Cate Blanchett all women brewed - from the lowest peasant to the high born lady in her still room, in fact I read that many working class women built up very profitable brewing businesses during the sixteenth century. Anyway, I digress. I want to brew and I have historical precedent, therefore I must brew. 

Before I yadda yadda ad infinitum, here's a lovely poem by Yeats which I could put on the labels of wine my bottles...

A Drinking Song
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
And for the beer bottles, well Houseman of course.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.

And here are a few good recipes from vintage cookbooks for the kind of home brew a lady could make  between finishing her plain sewing and doing the flowers at church. First, a seasonal receipt from the wonderful Gleanings from Gloucestershire Housewives.
The second is from The Country Housewife's Book, which you can find re-issued through Persephone Books.

For the time being I'm using my plethora of pewter pots (a by product of the antiques business seems to a be having a small collection of weird and wonderful odds and sods) as impromptu vases, but it won't be long before I shall be looking into the "pewter pot to see the world as the world's not."

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