Friday, July 31, 2009

Hops, Reformation, Bays, and Beer

A 13th-century law in the city of Augsburg, Germany stated that:

The selling of bad beer is a crime against Christian love.

There are interesting ties between the appreciation of beer in England and Germany, and the Reformations in both of those countries. I don't wish to make too strong a connection between beer and Reformation, but the history, while fuzzy, is worth pondering over a pint.

It was in 1516, that the Reinheitsgebot, the German or Bavarian Beer Purity Law, which required that beer be made only with water, barley and hops, was promulgated. A year later, Martin Luther, by the grace of God, initiated the Reformation at Wittenberg.

Although some reference this rhyme to events in 1520 (and it is to be conceded that hops had been in use in England for quite some time prior), this saying is generally identified with events in the year 1524:

Hops, reformation, bays, and beer, / Came into England all in one year.

Henry Buttes, Dyets Dry Dinner (1599):

Heresie and beere came hopping into England both in a yeere.

Sir Richard Baker (author of meditations upon select psalms), Chronicle of the Kings of England from the Time of the Romans' Government unto the Death of King James (1643), p. 298:

About his [Henry VIII's] fifteenth year [1524] it happen'd that diverse things were newly brought into England, whereupon this rhime was made: Turkeys, Carps, Hopps, Piccarel, and Beer, Came into England all in one year.

Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (1724-1726, 1768 ed.), Letter 2, Part 1, p. 34:

Here [Maidstone, England] likewise, and in the country adjacent, are great quantities of hops planted, and this is call'd the Mother of Hop Grounds in England; being the first place in England where hops were planted in any quantity, and long before any were planted at Canterbury, tho' that be now supposed to be the chief place in England, as shall be observ'd in its place: These were the hops, I suppose, which were planted at the beginning of the Reformation, and which gave occasion to that old distich:

Hops, Reformation, bays, and beer,
Came into England all in a year.

Samuel Smiles, The Huguenots: Their Settlements, Churches, and Industries in England and Ireland (1868), p. 94:

It is also supposed, though it cannot be exactly ascertained, that the Protestant Walloons [French-speaking Huguenots from Flanders] introduced the cultivation of the hop in Kent, bringing slips of the plant with them from Artois. The old distich --

"Hops, Reformation, Bays, and Beer,
Came into England all in one year" --

marks the period (about 1524) when the first English hops were planted.

Moreover, the White Horse Tavern in Cambridge, England is generally considered to the birthplace of the Cambridge wing of English Puritanism.

Samuel T. Logan, Jr., The Pilgrims and Puritans: Total Reformation for the Glory of God:

By 1526, regular (rather subversive) theological discussions were being conducted in the White Horse Tavern in Cambridge. Participants included such future luminaries as Thomas Bilney, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer. Every one of the four was later martyred.

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