I stumbled across this article entitled Women used to dominate the beer industry – until the witch accusations started pouring in. Of course I had to read it.
Beer has been a common, inexpensive beverage drunk throughout time. For many women beermaking was one of their regular tasks around the house.
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, fermenting beer was a way for single women (and for married couples) to earn money. They transported their brew to market in cauldrons and helped their customers find them by wearing tall pointed hats that could be seen above the crowd in the marketplace. Those who made and sold their beer from stores, had cats to keep the mice out of their grain.
Before long, women had a strong presence in the beermaking markets across England and much of the rest of Europe. Also during that time, along came the fundamentalist religious movement which enforced stricter gender norms, eventually leading to anyone who didn’t conform being punished, even put to death.
Male competitors in the beermaking industry apparently saw an opportunity to narrow the competition for customers. They started using the pointed, cauldron, and cat to identify “witches” and accused female beer sellers of brewing potions, not beer. In some places laws were enacted that prohibited women from brewing beer, assuring women would adhere to traditional roles.
Well, that’s one way to eliminate the [female] competition. There's so much to think about here. I'll refer you to the full article published in The Conversation. It was authored by Laken Brooks, Doctoral Student of English, University of Florida, March 5, 2021.
For more on the topic you can listen to the podcast Witches Brew: How the Patriarchy Ruins Everything for Women, Even Beer, researched, written, and posted by Averill Earls, PhD on Dig: A History Podcast. You can also continue down the rabbit hole with The dark history of women, witches, and beer, by Scotty Henricks on Big Think.
Elle is my nickname. I love learning new things. I can't help it.