Brewing has been women’s work since the dawn of civilization. In all acient cultures, beer was a gift from a goddess, and women maintated status and power through their skills as brewsters. This remains true today in indigenous cultures from Asia to Latin America, Africa to remote villages in Scandinavia. Around the world, women baked bread and brewed their own beer.
In Europe, the rise of cities brought commerical brewing, as governments realized the potential tax revenue to be had from large breweries. By 1445, the first all male brewers’ guild was established, the campaign against witchcraft burst forth across Europe, and the purge of women from brewing had begun. Beer historian Alan James has written that, when an occupation was listed, most of the women burned for witch craft in Europe were brewsters or alewives.
Most of the imagery we associate with witchcraft today originated with the brewster. The large black cauldron bubbling over with foam? A brew kettle, of course. The black cat? Necessary to keep rats out of the grain store. The tall pointed hat? It allowed the brewster to be seen over the heads of taller men in marketplace. A broom? The symbol of household domesticity, it is still associated with brewing all over the world.
We’ve brewed Black Cauldron Imperial Stout to recongize and honor the brewster. Without the work of these women through the ages, it’s entirely possible beer would not exist today. To learn more about the role of women in today’s brewing industry, visit:
for more on the history of brewing:
– FYI, Colorado has some of the best breweries in the WORLD…. It’s awesome living here! –