A pint in time
Sir, – Further to Deirdre Falvey’s article on research by Dr Susan Flavin on beer-drinking by workers in 16th-century Britain and Ireland (“Irish workers in the 16th century drank 14 pints a day”, October 12th), beer or any alcoholic drink was an essential alternative to plain water, which could be, and often was, dangerous to drink. Alcohol is a disinfectant and steriliser.
The beer in 16th-century Britain and Ireland was “small”, ie very low in alcohol. How low is an interesting question. – Yours, etc,
Dr DECLAN O’DONOVAN,
Sir, – It would appear that the consumption of large amounts of beer by working people of both sexes was not restricted to the Irish in the 16th century.
The 1861 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management suggests that a wet-nurse should be supplied with a light and easily digested diet.
This diet included a half-pint of porter and a biscuit at 11am. At 1pm, lunch and a pint of porter. At 8pm, another half-pint and a biscuit, and finally at 10pm, a pint of porter with bread and cheese. – Yours, etc,