Beer witches

Beer witches

0 2 weeks ago

Since the process of fermentation was not entirely known in Medieval times, once beer went sour many people’s first thought was about witchcraft. Suspicion quickly turned into blame and court judgements were born against „beer witches” for souring the beer.

In 1565 Mrs Briesemann was sued for cursing and thus turning sour the beer of Joachim Mellermann. Similarly, Mrs Garmar was also sued for „mixing poison” into Berndt Schneider’s beer barrels. In 1581, Katharina Janeken was sued for murder, for killing Hans Ebels and Mrs Ebels with poisoned beer – by doing witchcraft, naturally. Unfortunately the acccused all admitted to their crimes – due to the effective ways of interrogations of the time.

A higher level was reached with the women, who was charged by another with ordering flying ghosts to a brewery for cursing and souring all beer inside. The witness testified, that she watched through the whole process. Torture reached the accused – who confessed, just as the wife of the mayor of Schlawe. She was suspected of creating black wort which made her daughter see hallucinations.

Fortunately, science and common sense help us now to prove – there was no witchcraft involved with these issues. Laws were not always complied with, and many used different plants and roots for spicing the beer – a lot of times these included poisonous ones too, such as the rowan berry.

What’s the moral of the story? Perhaps that we have to check at least twice what we use to spice up our beer – but most importantly, never start a witch hunt if something goes the wrong way.
Or maybe there really are witches.