Ir­ish work­ers drank up to 14 pints of beer a day

Stone­ma­sons in the 1560s were given ex­tra ale when car­ry­ing out ar­du­ous labour

BBC History Magazine - - History Now / News -

Beer­was as much of a sta­ple of the 16th-cen­tury Ir­ish diet as bread, ac­cord­ing to new re­search by Dr Su­san Flavin, a lec­turer in early mod­ern his­tory at Anglia Ruskin Univer­sity.

Dr Flavin found ev­i­dence that ma­sons hew­ing stone at a Dublin quarry in 1565 were given an al­lowance of 12–14 pints of ale a day, when un­der­tak­ing ex­treme labour. Else­where, house­hold staff at Dublin Cas­tle, as well as El­iz­a­bethan sol­diers in Ire­land, were found to have con­sumed up to eight pints of hopped ale a day.

Ir­ish beers in the 16th cen­tury had a higher oat con­tent than their English coun­ter­parts. This was in­flu­enced by the cold, wet cli­mate and the un­set­tled eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion but may also have re­lated to cul­tural tastes. Oat beer was re­port­edly thicker and had a more bit­ter taste than those made pre­dom­i­nantly with bar­ley.

Says Flavin: “The beers were rel­a­tively high in malt con­tent and may have had 400–500 calo­ries per pint. My next step is to recre­ate them to test their al­co­hol and nu­tri­tional value”.

A 16th-cen­tury earth­en­ware jug that may have been used to con­tain beer

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