1. The Brewer

    Chris Waplington from Bad Seed Brewery with Jacob Wittewronghele

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    Jacob Wittewronghele (1558-1622) by an unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist, c.1590-1600 © Lawes Agricultural Trust, Rothamsted Manor

    In the world that Jacob Wittewronghele knew, beer was not merely a source of social interactivity and intoxication; it was a way of life. The average person consumed about eight pints of low strength beer every day. It was a source of valuable nutrition and desperately needed calories, and beer was safer to drink than water as it had been boiled during the brewing process.

    Eight pints per day, per person, is a lot of beer to produce, and it would have been a very physical, hands-on process. Like craft brewers today, Jacob would have had to create innovative and delicious recipes whilst working with farmed crops that changed in character every harvest, as well as enduring early starts and long hours. In my experience there would also be lots of lifting and transferring of heavy amounts of malted barley and boiling hot liquids, and careful nurturing of yeast cultures. Jacob would need to know his ingredients and be in control of a living process. And then repeat it.

    For me, the fact that Jacob could do it all so successfully is a real testament to his craft as a brewer and skills as a businessman. He must have been a very busy man; I’m surprised he even had time to pose for this portrait!

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