Modern beer has little in common with the drink that carried that name through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Looking at a time when beer was often a nutritional necessity, was sometimes used as medicine, could be flavored with everything from the bark of fir trees to thyme and fresh eggs, and was consumed by men, women, and children alike, Beer in the Middle Ages and Renaissance presents an extraordinarily detailed history of the business, art, and governance of brewing.
During the medieval and early modern periods beer was as much a daily necessity as a source of inebriation and amusement. It was the beverage of choice of urban populations that lacked access to secure sources of potable water; a commodity of economic as well as social importance; a safe drink for daily consumption that was less expensive than wine; and a major source of tax revenue for the state.
In Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Richard W. Unger has written an encompassing study of beer as both a product and an economic force in Europe. Weaving together the stories of prosperous businessmen, skilled brewmasters, and small producers, this impressively researched overview of the social and cultural practices that surrounded the beer industry is rich in implication for the history of the period as both a product and an economic force in Europe. The book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press.
©2004 University of Pennsylvania Press (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks
"This is an important book on the history of beer and brewing and is a valuable resource." (Choice)
This is a thorough, scholarly analysis of government regulations and tax records to shed light on developments in the production and use of beer and ale in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Unger covers ingredients, recipes, nutrition, technology, distribution, taxation, regulation and consumption. He draws some interesting conclusions about industrial, commercial, political and social developments involving beer in the Middle Ages and Renaissance and also provides contrasts with developments in some other industries of the times. While Unger uses his conclusions to throw some light on broader aspects of life in those times, he explicitly leaves most of such analyses to future scholars.
I was expecting information about the brewing and use of beer in the Middle Ages. This book had a little of that, but it was mostly market data about how much was produced in particular regions and where it was distributed. The interesting information got lost in the marketing data. I did not finish the book, which is rare for me.
But the truth is, it was just pretty dull. I love beer and brewing and how it links generations for all of mans history. I figured that has to make a great book right? Well sort of. The information and amount of research required to compile it must have been staggering, this must be applauded. But the telling of the story was just kind of dull. I found myself drifting in thought and missing chunks of the book and not caring enough to rewind it.
I recommend it, but only if you really want to know about the subject.
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