Beer has been enjoyed for a very long time in Southampton!
At the Gateway exhibition in the SeaCity Museum as part of a display on the Iron Age you can see some charred barley grains from a pit excavation near Regent’s Park. Malted barley grains are normally used for brewing. This shows that some kind of beer or ale had already been brewed around 2,000 years ago.
During Medieval Times alcoholic beverages were a core constituent of daily diets and an alternative to urban water supplies which were unreliable or polluted. Wines from France and Italy had already been imported since the 12th century. Beer was originally brewed in Germany and the Low Countries. It had a lighter colour, cleaner taste and higher alcohol content than its unhopped predecessor ale and, because of the preserving properties of the resin found in hops, could be transported more confidently and stored for up to a year. Due to its southern location and continental trading connections, Southampton was one of the key ports for the import of beer. Residents themselves soon turned to production and enjoyed ready access to hops imported from the Low Countries. By the middle of the 16th century beer had become very popular and local brewers – there were 7 brewhouses within the walled town –had started exporting to the Channel Islands and sold “ship beer” to merchant and naval vessels. As a matter of fact Queen Elizabeth I used to drink a glass of beer for breakfast every morning.
If you would like to enjoy a pint of locally brewed beer in historical surroundings, why not join one of our guided tours followed by a beer tasting session in the newly opened Microbrewery “The Dancing Man” at the Wool House.
October 14, 2015