Monday, May 20, 2013

Beer... Used to be Psychoactive.

“According to Linneaus, it was used by the people of Lima in Dalecarnia, instead of hops, when they brewed for weddings: '. . . so that the guests become crazy.' Linneaus called the plant galentara, 'causing madness', and this plant 'which the people of Lima sometimes use in their ale stirs up the blood and makes one lose one's balance.'. . . Yarrow is in no way innocent when mixed with ale. It has a strong odour and flavour, and well deserves the name Linnaeus gave it, to indicate the frenzy that was said to result from it...”

“One of the arguments of the Protestants against the Catholic clergy (and indeed of Catholicism) was Catholic self-indulgence: in food, drink, and lavish life style. And it was this Protestant outrage that was the genesis of the temperance movement. (It would not stop, of course, with the assault on gruit ales but would continue on to include ale itself and any kind of psychotropic or inebriating plants and drinks by the twentieth century.)...”

“The Protestant reformists were joined by merchants and competing royals desiring to break the brewing monopoly of the church. The result was, ultimately, the end of a many-thousand-year tradition of herbal beer making in Europe and the narrowing of beer and ale into one limited expression of beer production, that of hopped ales or what we today call beer. The majority of historical beer writers insist that this was only because (after some 10,000 years) our ancestors accidentally discovered that hops was antiseptic enough to preserve beer. Our ancestors were neither that blind nor narrow in their empiricism. Hops kept the beer from spoiling, yes, however a number of other herbs possess strong antibacterial properties and can help beer "keep." Many of those herbs were commonly used in ale, for instance wormwood and juniper. But hops possesses two characteristics notably different than the herbs it replaced - it causes the drinker to become drowsy and it diminishes sexual desire. Protestant literature of the time, denoting the "problems" associated with the gruit herbs, contradict contemporary beer historians and are in actuality some of the first drug control manifestos on record. The laws that eventually passed in the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries restricting the number of herbal additives used in brewing are actually the first drug control laws ever passed.”
- The Fall of Gruit and the Riseof the Brewer's Droop.

DAMN YOU, FOLLOWERS OF MARTIN LUTHER. Bring back the psychoactive booze, I say! American beer sucks, anyway. Except some microbrews, I guess.


Fenris23 said...

Someone needs to get a hold of some of these ancient recipes and make some.

scribbler said...

Bloody puritans!

Harold Roth said...

There's a book with recipes for these beers:

I've never tried them, although I have been very tempted to try the henbane one. Henbane seems to be the "friendliest" of the tropane-containing plants. Also seems to be the one most associated with witchcraft.

Anonymous said...

Witchcraft? Ah, yes... I knew a redhead, claimed to be a nurse, but I could tell she was a witch. Definitely enchanted me...

Jack Faust said...

Harold: Thanks for the link! I'll have to pick it up and take a gander!

I'd actually also like to try the Henbane one. Very much so.

As for the witchery angle: I think they're all (the old-world tropane containing plants) pretty heavily associated with spellcraft. I've seen just as many potions containing Atropa Belladonna, as those containing Mandragora Officinarum and Henbane. I actually think that Henbane and Mandrake are the 'friendliest,' sitting in the same category. Atropa Belladonna sits in another, slightly more dangerous category with something like Papaver somniferum (even though it's an opiate and not a Tropane relative).

Anon: LOL. I think you're missing out on ideas of witchcraft not necessarily involving women.