Middle Ages 500 – 1350

The Middle Ages was the middle period in a schematic division of European history into three 'ages': Classical civilization, the Middle Ages, and Modern Civilization. It is commonly considered as having lasted from the end of the Western Roman Empire (5th century) until the rise of national monarchies and the beginnings of demographic and economic renewal after the Black Death, European overseas exploration and the cultural revival known as the Renaissance around the 15th century as well as the Protestant Reformation starting 1517 when the Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, known as the 95 Theses, challenged the teachings of the Church on the nature of penance, the authority of the pope and the usefulness of indulgences. They sparked a theological debate that would result in the birth of the Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist traditions within Christianity….
Middle Ages

500 CE


Saint Arnold (Arnulf) of Metz

St. Arnold

Saint Arnold (Arnulf) of Metz (b.582, d.640), was born in Layum castle, which today is known as Lay-Saint- Christophe near Nancy in Austrasia. Saint Arnold who was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, was another great believer of the superiority of beer over water, believing that polluted water caused illness and that beer was much safer to drink. According to one legend he stopped an outbreak of plague by submerging his crucifix in a brew kettle and telling the locals to drink the blessed beer instead of water. Saint Arnold is recognized by the Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of Brewers.

IMAGE: Saint Arnold of Metz

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Myths, Religion, Saints

Saint Amand Amandus

St AmandSaint Amand Amandus (b.584, d.679), commonly called Saint Amand, was a bishop of Tongeren-Maastricht in Flanders. St. Amand was considered the father of monasticism in Belgium. He founded numerous monasteries in Belgium, including Elnone (Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), near Tournai, his headquarters, St. Peters on Mont- Blendin at Ghent; Nivells, for nuns, also helped St. Gertrude and her mother St. Itta establish a famous Benedictine monastery Barisis-au-Bois at Nivelles, and a score of other monasteries claim him as founder. Saint Amand is the patron saint of brewers, innkeepers and bartenders, as well as the patron of vine growers, vintners and merchants, and the Boy Scouts.

IMAGE: St. Amand

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Monasteries, Myths, Religion, Saints

St. Columbanus

st columbian

Born in West Leinster, Ireland in 543, St. Columbanus (b.543 d.615) was an Irish-born saint who helped bring Celtic monasticism to the continent. On a missionary assignment to Germany, St. Columbanus came upon a group of Wodan worshippers in the town of Bregenz (in modern day Austria) preparing a sacrifice with a vat filled with ale in their midst, an offer to their god Wodan. St. Columbanus blew on it and the vessel burst into splinters with a great noise and spilling all the beer. He explained that they were wasting good ale and his God loved ale, but only when consumed in his name. Impressed, many converted on the spot to the new, beer- friendly religion. St. Columbanus is also remembered for his beer blessing, “It is my design to die in the brew- house; let ale be placed to my mouth when I am expiring so that when the choir of angels come they may say: ‘Be God propitious to this drinker.’ “

IMAGE: St. Columbanus

Myths, Religion, Saints

Recognition of Beer by the Church

Handschrift Synode Aachen Kanonissenregel

The documented recognition of beer by the church, came at the synod of Aachen where the main issues of this synod were the reform of the monastic life and the regulation of the canonical life. It was decided that a monk should receive daily one beaker (hemina , 0.273 l) of wine or,  where no wine was available, twice as much (onesextarius, 0.546 l) of ‘good beer’.

IMAGE Manuscript of the canonical regulations laid down at the Synod of Aachen (Dombibliothek Würzburg M.p.th.q.25 Concilium Aquisgranense a. 816. Institutio sanctimonialium Aquisgranensis)

Brewery, native americans
Cultural, Monasteries, Religion

First Evidence of the Use of Hops

St. Adalhard

The first evidence of the use of hops in brewing in Europe originates comes from then Abbot Adalhard of Corbiea (b.752 d.827) a Benedictine monk at Corbie Abbey, whom issued a set of instructions for his abbey that included reference to hops. In his Consuetudines Corbeienses, (The Customs of Corbie) Abbot Adalhard (later canonized) decreed that the porter of the monastery might receive a fraction of the hops given as tithe to the abbey to make beer thereof. St. Adalhard (also known as Adelard) is honored as patron saint of many churches and towns in France and along the lower Rhine and is the patron saint of gardeners.

IMAGE: St Adelhardus by Leonhard Bech, 1516-1518

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Brewing Process, Ingredient, Monasteries, Myths, Religion, Saints

Good King Wenceslas

Annual National St. Wenceslas Pilgrimage (28th of September) in Stará Boleslav

Saint Wenceslas I (b. 907, d. 929) Duke of Bohemia, was born in Czechoslovakia, and is remembered in the Christmas carol written in 1853 by Englishman John Mason Neale, “Good King Wenceslas”. Realizing the value of Bohemian hops he endeared himself to local hop growers and brewers by instituting a death penalty for anyone caught exporting the noble Saaz hops. Assassinated by rivals including his younger brother Boleslav (Boleslav I of Bohemia) while in his early 20s, subsequently he was made the patron saint of both Bohemia and Czechoslovakia, his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension, he became a patron saint of Czech brewers. Although Wenceslas was only a duke, Roman Emperor Otto I, posthumously conferred on Wenceslas the regal dignity and title king.

IMAGE: Saint Wenceslas Skull. During the annual National St. Wenceslas Pilgrimage (28th of September) in Stará Boleslav, the most precious Czech religious relic, the skull of Prince Wenceslas, is transported to the scene of his assassination.

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Cultural, Event, Myths, Person, Religion, Saints

Saint Arnulf (Arnold) of Soissons

Saint Arnulf (Arnold) of Soissons

A Benedictine bishop and founder of the Abbey of Onendbourg in France, Saint Arnulf (Arnold) of Soissons (b. 1040, d.1087) is often confused with St. Arnold of Metz and many of the same miracles have been attributed to both. Following the collapse of the roof of an abbey brewery in Flanders, St. Arnulf asked God to multiply the stores of beer which were left for the monk’s consumption. When his prayer was answered in abundance, the monks and townspeople were prepared to canonize him on the spot. St. Arnulf is also  credited with discovering that the straw cones used in bee hives could be used as a filter in the brewing process to produce a clearer brew. As a result, he’s often portrayed surrounded by bees and with one hand resting on a bee hive.

IMAGE: St. Arnold of Soissons is often depicted with a bishop’s mitre and a mash rake.

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Person, Religion, Saints

Weihenstephan, World's Oldest Brewery Founded

Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan

The Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, is the world’s oldest brewery. Its origins begin as a Benedictine monastery in 725 when Saint Corbinian together with twelve companions, founded the monastery on Nährberg Hill probably began the art of brewing. The first indication of brewing came in a historical reference to hops in the year 768. At that time there was a hop garden in the vicinity of the Weihenstephan Monastery, whose owner was obligated to pay a tithe of 10 per cent to the monastery. It is an obvious conclusion that these hops were brewed in the monastery.

In 1040 beer brewing officially began at Weihenstephan. That year Abbot Arnold succeeded in obtaining from the City of Freising a license to brew and sell beer which marked the birth of the Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery. On 24 March 1803 the brewery was dissolved, and all the possessions and rights of the monastery were transferred to the Bavarian State. However that did not close the brewery as the brewery continued under the secular supervision of the royal holdings at Schleissheim. 1921 the brewery got its current name, Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan using the Great Seal of Bavaria as its corporate logo since 1923.

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Brewery, Event, Monasteries, Religion

Oldest Written Record Using Hops in Beer

Engraving, portrait of Hildegard von Bingen, German Abbess and physician by William Marshall. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

The oldest surviving written record of the use of hops in beer is in 1067 by well-known writer Abbess Hildegard von Bingen (b. 1098, d.1179). Hildegard was a Benedictine nun, the Abbess of Diessenberg, and a well-known herbalist, mystic and musician. Although she has not yet been canonized, she has been beatified and is considered a saint by many people. Hildegard overcame social, cultural, and gender barriers to become an advisor to bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and gemstones. Her writings include the earliest known reference to using hops in beer “(Hops), when put in beer, stops putrification and lends longer durability.”

IMAGE:Engraving, portrait of Hildegard von Bingen, German Abbess and physician by William Marshall. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

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Artifact, Cultural, Religion

King of Beer

King Gambrinus

The image of a king standing alongside a barrel of beer raising a toast had long been associated with beer. This King is King Gambrinus (b.1251 , d.1294). Known to his close friends as the ‘King of Beer’ is not recognized in any church listings, but he is credited with having invented hopped malt beer. Gambrinus is believed to be derived from the Latin Jan Primus also known as Jan I, Duke of Brabant. It is thought by many that his remains were buried underneath what is now the old Brussels stock-exchange and soon to be Brussels Beer Temple. Primus, according to the Encyclopedia of Beer, is credited with introducing the toast as a custom. Some others attribute Gambrinus to Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless, 1371-1419), known as Ganbrivius. King Gambrinus was declared by the Germans and Belgians to  be the Patron Saint of beer, and was further elevated to god status by brewers in the 16th century. He is credited to be the first brewer-king to have incorporated hops into the brewing process.

Myth has it that around the year 1100, the brewers of Brussels deliberated which strong and courageous man should be their leader. They organized a contest, at which a large beer barrel was placed on the ground. The one who could carry it to a spot two stone’s throws away would become their head brewer. Among many who registered for the contest was a Duke from Brabant, whose name was Jan Primus, a man of great strength and considerable intellect. With obvious joy, he followed the futile efforts of the numerous competitors to move the beer barrel. When his turn came, he ordered the servant to beat a spigot into the bunghole. He then lay down under the barrel, opened the tap and drank until the barrel was empty. Having done this, he carried the barrel effortlessly to the winning post. On the strength of this clever idea, the brewers of Brussels appointed him as their honorary leader. Jan Primus became “Gambrinus, the King of Beer.”

IMAGE:  Gambrinus Library of Congress Prints c.1858?

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Cultural, Myths, Person, Saints

King Wenceslas II

Alfons Mucha 1860 - 1939, Slav Epic 1910 - 1928.King Wenceslas II Přemyslid (born Sept. 17, 1271—died June 21, 1305), King of Bohemia from 1278,  Duke of Cracow from 1291, and King of Poland from 1300 who ably ruled his Bohemian kingdom and spread his influence not only into Poland but also into Hungary. He was the only son of King Ottokar II of Bohemia and Ottokar’s second wife Kunigunda and  succeed to the throne at the age of seven on the death of his father, Přemysl Otakar II, who had died in battle on August 26, 1278. Wenceslas lived at the court of his cousin Otto IV of Brandenburg who served as regent for Wenceslas until 1283. Offered the Hungarian crown, he declined and placed his son Wenceslas (later King Wenceslas III) on the throne in 1301 but was forced to withdraw him in 1304. While serving as the Duke of Cracow, Wenceslas persuaded the Pope to revoke an order banning the brewing of beer, again endearing the Wenceslas name to brewers & drinkers. He died of tuberculosis at the age of only 33 in 1305.

IMAGE: Alfons Mucha 1860 – 1939, Slav Epic 1910 – 1928. Twenty large format canvases with scenes of key moments in the history of the Slavic nation. #5 King Ottokar II of Bohemia painted in 1924.

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Cultural, Person, Religion, Saints

Augustiner-Bräu, Oldest Munich Brewery

Wening Monastery, Augustiner-Bräu, 1494

The Augustinian Hermits founded a monastery on the Haberfeld (Haber Meadow) just outside of Munich in 1294. At the beginning of the 14th century they also founded and constructed a brewery, which was to become essential for the economic wellbeing of the monks. The brewery was mentioned by name for the first time in 1328 as Augustiner-Bräu, which makes it the oldest brewery in Munich. The Augustine monks supplied the Wittelsbach dukes with their highly esteemed strong beer until the dukes were able to supply themselves from 1589 from their own Brauhaus – the newly founded Hofbräuhaus.

IMAGE: Wening Monastery, Augustiner-Bräu, 1494

Brewery, Monasteries, Religion

Bock Beer First Appears

Etching by Matthäus Merian of the City of Einbeck after Buno dated 1654

The style known now as bock was a dark, malty, lightly hopped ale first brewed in the 14th century by German brewers in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck. The style from Einbeck was later adopted by Munich brewers in the 17th century and adapted to the new lager style of brewing. Due to their Bavarian accent, citizens of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (“a billy goat”), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. As a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels. Bock is historically associated with special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent (the latter as Lentenbock). Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Bavarian monks as a source of nutrition during times of fasting.

IMAGE: Etching by Matthäus Merian of the City of Einbeck after Buno dated 1654

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Artifact, Discovery
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