Tuesday, 21 August 2018

punky brewster

While there’s no definitive link between the stereotypical image of a witch and the business attire, signpost and shingle of the medieval alewives (braciatrix, brewess, brewster) that dominated beer brewing as a cottage industry from Antiquity to the early Middle Ages does certainly seem to inform the Western world’s conception with the distinguishing calling-cards of a tall, pointy hat, cauldron, broomstick and a feline familiar.
Despite inconclusive scholarship and myriad neighbourhood jealousies that can set off a flurry of accusations, that men—seeing a business opportunity and wanting to dispose of the competition, would resort to calling their established counterparts enchantresses and in league with the Devil does not surprise. The first outbreaks of the Plague across Europe caused significant shifts in the production of beer and spirits, taking it out of the home and making it a larger scale enterprise, often under the charter of the Church and a venture for monasteries to make beer to standard and making independent women entrepreneurs more and more marginalised. An empowered beer wench could certainly push a man to behave below his station, driving him to make poor choices and spend all his money on drink, and once women were forced to abandon their craft brew, they maintained their treacherous wiles by more unnatural means.