B is for Beer–A–Z Meme

Going to try and “blog” a bit more, instead of just using it as a journal of random thoughts. You’ll still get that stuff, but once a week at least I’m going to do a blog.

Today I’m going to continue with the much lapsed “a-z” and I think we are up to B.

Which shows you how well i did with it before.


These subjects are not particularly “writer-worthy” or serious, hell, it’s me after all. But I hope it might pique your interest, give you a bunny or simply make you go, “gosh that’s interesting.”

B is for beer. One of my publishers said, a while back, that he thought many historical books were full of alcoholics because they all seemed to be drinking beer. He had no idea until I bored him rigid (also B) the reason for that, which is simply that the water up to quite recent times, was not fit to drink.

Most drinking water came from rivers. There was a reason why most towns and cities were built on rivers, after all. People arrived at an area, had a look around and built their house close enough to a water source so they didn’t have to walk too far to fetch some. This was perfect when your neighbourhood looked like this:

but not so good once it looked like this:

All water came from the river, and all water—and more solid things—went back to the river. People didn’t so much drink beer (and small beer) because heating water made the water safer (they may not have known why, but people aren’t altogether daft) but because it made it taste more palatable.

Places like Venice, where the water around the islands are undrinkable, were reliant on rainfall for water and even now, the ancient rainfall tanks can still be seen—and indeed are being modernised, even today. Imagine how horrible a drought must have been.


Small beer, by the way is a low alcohol beer made from the re-using of  the mash from the first brewing. Its low alcohol content though didn’t have enough “oomph” to keep the water pure.

There’s a gravestone which reads:

Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer,
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye’re hot drink Strong or none at all.

Previous blogs: A-antagonist

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