Even if you aren’t Irish tomorrow can still be a great holiday.  Why?  The beer of course.  I mean who doesn’t love an excuse to drink a cold one during a workday?  But, did you know that beer has a very interesting connection to those evil ladies who fly around on broomsticks?  True story.

To start, we should acknowledge the fact that people have been drinking beer for 7,000 years.  What else is a fascinating bit of information is that women were the original brewers.  They brewed beer not only for religious purposes but as a household beverage.  This was because it was a calorie-dense drink that people would use as a source of nutrients.  Yes, even back in the middle ages people wanted their carbs and proteins.

Since most beer brewing was done in the home and was very commonly consumed, some women took it upon themselves to start selling their homebrews at local markets.  Guess what they would sell it out of?  A big cauldron.  Oh, and so that people could see them in a crowd and know they were selling beer these women would wear tall pointy hats.  You see where I’m going with this, right?  These original brewmasters are where the stereotypical witch look comes from!

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Now, here’s where things get a bit sticky.  During the Mid-1500s a religious movement began in Europe.  For you history buffs you know this as the Reformation.  Basically, this was a divide between the Catholic Church and what came to be known as the Protestant faith.  You can learn more about this here.  Anyway, the Reformation also put into focus the roles of the household and, of course, witchcraft.

For our early female brewmasters, this did not end well.  What ended up happening was that male brewmasters of the time took advantage of the Reformation and started accusing female beer brewers of witchcraft.  They spread rumors that women selling beer were actually witches and that what was in their cauldrons was not beer but magic potions.  Obviously, it started getting pretty dangerous for women to continue making/selling beer.  Being accused of witchcraft back then was not an accusation you wanted if you intended on living a long and joyful life.  Salem Witch Trials anyone?

So, there is a little bit of beer history for you.  You can now tell your friends not only how witches got their iconic look but that they were also some of the first people to brew and sell beer.  Isn’t history fascinating?

(H/T smithsonianmag.com)

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