BVC - women and brewing

Tonessa West-Crowe twest-crowe at fulbright.com
Tue Apr 6 07:43:20 PDT 1999



>>> Damaris of Greenhill <damaris at io.com> 04/03 6:55 AM >>>
N.D. Wederstrandt wrote:
> 
> 2) Since women in the Middle Ages were the primary brewers -- why
aren't
> more women in the SCA interested in brewing?  What prompted this
> disinterest?  Is brewing in the SCA truly a "MAN's" Activity? (grin)


Greetings Fellow Brewers and Brewsters!

In the East there are a lot of woman brewers.  Sad to say that many are
not acknowledged highly as men are.  There could be a lot of reasons
why, for the most part, women are not seen as brewers in the SCA and
more so, why, in the bigger picture, women do not participate more
visibly in this area as men.  For me the answer simply is one of a
changing modern culture.  From the movement by Cary Nation to our
computer age, drinking and women seem to be seen as an evil. (They go
hand in hand with fast cars.)  Although we are a medieval/renaissance
re-enactment group, we are still bridled by modern tenets and mores.  I
have been brewing for 16 years and enjoy the mead and ales I create. 
(Some time too much so.)  Because I am a woman, it is looked down on,
even today in this SCA, for me to exhibits anything more than lilting
laughter by some muse rather than a sting by the honey of the bee.  

I would also like to stretch the notion that possibly such an idea of
woman brewers as an evil began much farther back than the Temperance
movement.  Some opinions have it that women discovered brewing by
accident.  That may be true.  Yet also another opinion still puts woman
and their alchemy as one linked with the devil for mixing such potions
that can intoxicate and, yes, bewitch.  The psychological enslavement
(maybe too harsh a word) to such beliefs can (and many times do)
transmigrates from generation to generation and then become so reified
that it is held as truth.   Another point of view, with no intention of
being factional, is that history has proven too often that men have
taken over a thing when created by a woman, even its credit, when such a
thing is proven to be beneficial or of use to them.  This too is
culturally derived.

As I said earlier, there are many woman in the East who are Brewsters. 
As a matter of fact, all of my current apprentices, who happen to be
women, are brewsters, and excellent ones too.  I know of only one Master
Brewer in the East who was a woman, Catarina Del Cavallo (she is now
deceased).   This again may be due to politics.  (There has yet to be a
woman Knight in the East,  forget the thought of having a woman be Queen
by her own right.)  

I believe that the only answer to having more woman participate in
brewing is to dismantle the idea that such is somehow not seen as
"lady-like" or gentle.  Attacking such a mind set may seen ominous,
indeed.  Further, I am not of the opinion that men are the main reason
that women are discouraged from such an art or alchemy.  I have seen
more women in the SCA just opposed to woman brewers as they are opposed
to woman fighters.  (I hid for years that one of my first desires was to
be a fighter.  I was an athlete in my younger life and had run two
marathons, every major race in New York, bicycled from San Francisco to
La and from New York to Boston, horrors, how un-lady-like!)   I feel
that they have bought the bill of goods sold them, that women's roles
are defined by sex and gender.  

Enough of this prattle of a mad woman, give me another home brew!

Isabella
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