Gegaderung > Anglo-Saxon Discussion

Alcoholic drinks of the Anglo Saxons

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Horsa:
So, the "How do we spread knowledge that A-S is a large part of Modern English?" has produced some great conversations and has wandered off topic a few times, but I thought that I should transfer this to its own thread because we don't want to clutter up the thread with off topic conversations, and I think booze deserves a thread all of its own.


--- Quote from: Peter Horn ---Lith is harder to pin down. I think, but cannot prove it, that Lith prob means mild. We say today, or we used to say not that long ago, 'a pint of Mild'  Lith was certainly used by the AS to mean a weaker (less alcoholic?) form of drink.
peter
--- End quote ---

I'm very curious about líþ being certainly used to refer to weaker less alcoholic drinks. What leads you to this conclusion. I understood it to mean 'strong drink', but then I'm getting that only from B&T - entry for líþ. However, when I read the entry, there's not much about the example sentences that suggests 'strong drink'. In fact, a couple of them suggest that it was a generic term for drink - almost certainly alcoholic given the nature of mediaeval practice. Then again, I don't know latin, and B&T although good and comprehensive does have its problems. You seem to have access to some great sources, so you could enlighten me on this.

It's interesting that you mention mild. That's my favourite beer. Indeed it is characterized these days by its low alcohol content as well as the low hopping rate. However, according to Graham Wheeler, a beer historian, mild was originally called such to differentiate it from 'stale'. In the 1700s, properly matured beer had started the process of turning to vinegar and had a sour acidic taste. Mild was the same beer but served young.

The point I'm making is that líþ may well mean mild, but it might not necessarily refer to alcohol content as we can see with mild. Then again you did put a question mark by 'less alcoholic'.

Peter, you said you were a botanist and come at the subject from that perspective. I come at this subject as a home brewer. What gets me about beer making is that it's so labour intensive. You need to grow the barley, harvest it, malt it (which takes about 3 days and lots of attention), then you kiln it, crush it, steep it, run off the wort, boil it, cool it, ferment it. Mead and wine is so much easier. Mead, mix honey with water, add yeast and wait. Wine - crush and press the fruit, wait (fruit has yeast on the skins so you don't even have to add yeast).

It is interesting that all the Germanic names for cider translate into apple-wine. This suggests that the drink was imported after wine had become established.

peter horn:
[

--- Quote from: Peter Horn ---Lith is harder to pin down. I think, but cannot prove it, that Lith prob means mild. We say today, or we used to say not that long ago, 'a pint of Mild'  Lith was certainly used by the AS to mean a weaker (less alcoholic?) form of drink.
peter
--- End quote ---

I'm very curious about líþ being certainly used to refer to weaker less alcoholic drinks. What leads you to this conclusion. I understood it to mean 'strong drink',

as I show in my article, lith appears to be associated, in the Herbarium, with watered-down drinks.

 

It is interesting that all the Germanic names for cider translate into apple-wine. This suggests that the drink was imported after wine had become established.
[/quote]

yes, in my article I give the sequence as vinyards followed by apple orchards in England.

Lith is a term very difficult to decide upon a particular meaning because it is use with a number of meanings.   

    Cockayne gives the meaning 'drink' but not a specific drink (Vol 2 Glossary)
But then, in the same volume,( LB 1 xix) he translates lithes as cup. But this is I think where cup can mean drink as in 'He likes his cup' meaning 'he likes his drink'

peter

Horsa:

--- Quote from: peter horn on December 02, 2011, 11:36:16 AM ---
as I show in my article, lith appears to be associated, in the Herbarium, with watered-down drinks.

--- End quote ---

Ah yes, I had completely missed that. I read liðon as being a different word to lið like, I don't know, gesture and jest. This is perhaps because I read liðon as liðe and I'm used to líþ as a noun referring to wine from Heliand.


--- Quote from: peter horn on December 02, 2011, 11:36:16 AM ---Lith is a term very difficult to decide upon a particular meaning because it is use with a number of meanings.   

    Cockayne gives the meaning 'drink' but not a specific drink (Vol 2 Glossary)
But then, in the same volume,( LB 1 xix) he translates lithes as cup. But this is I think where cup can mean drink as in 'He likes his cup' meaning 'he likes his drink'

peter

--- End quote ---

Yes, I'm beginning to get the feeling that liþ is an umbrella term like this.

What I also liked about this article is that I learned what mulsum was. I had to look it up on Wikipedia. It is quite a different drink from beer. It is strange that the translator chose to translate mulsum with beor, especially if beor was similar to what we understand by the word beer.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that ancient wine was not aged like it is now, possibly because of sanitation issues, consequently it can't have tasted very nice - acidic and 'hot' (alcoholic tasting). It makes sense that they would water it down and/or add a sweetener.

The thing with beer as opposed to wine is that you can control the alcohol level. Add more malt, get more sugar. If they didn't add hops or other bittering agents, beer would have tasted fairly sweet.

Or is it possible that the translator didn't know exactly what mulsum was? I would have translated it as honeyed wine or hunig-menged wín or something along those lines, but then again, I'm not a 10th century English scribe.

peter horn:

Or is it possible that the translator didn't know exactly what mulsum was? I would have translated it as honeyed wine or hunig-menged wín or something along those lines, but then again, I'm not a 10th century English scribe.
[/quote]


Yes there are two possible explanations involved here.

Its quite possible that this particular scribe was unfamiliar with, the foreign drink, mulsum. He therefore translated the passage using the native beor.  Or,
'Beor' was a term used not only for a specific drink, ie fermented barley, but also sometimes used as a general term for alcoholic drinks. It is interesting that today people sometimes say 'he likes his beer' not necessarily meaning beer.
"Beor' used as a general term explains the glosses with all sorts of alcoholic drinks.

Wulfric:
I've been doing a lot of revisiting threads.

Peter or Horsa, or both. Could you explain the difference in the processes of making apple wine as opposed to cider.

Our garden in Devon gets a good crop of apples from a range of varieties, I believe largely Katy. My brother and I have experimented a little with cider making, the first time it was quite palatable, just a little yeasty, but the second time it was only really fit for cooking with or as a joke around re-enactment camp fires where the macho factor was quite high, it was more like cider-vinegar. It was strong stuff on both occasions, that's for sure.

We cored and sliced the apples, then through great effort and curious ingenuity managed to squeeze the delicious fresh apple juice out. We didn't add any yeast but left the juice in otherwise clean, loosely lidded buckets and let nature run it's course for a while. I'm sure we made many mistakes, the biggest one being not taking exact notes on what we did either time.

Would this process count as cider or wine making? Due to the result I'm tempted to say neither but which were we closest to? And where did we go wrong?

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