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By James Sumner

How did the brewing of beer develop into a systematic strategy? Sumner explores this question through charting the idea and perform of the exchange in Britain and eire through the eighteenth and 19th centuries.

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42 This version came to the attention of John Mortimer (c. 1656–1736), a successful merchant turned dilettante agricultural improver who had been brought into the Royal Society under Sloane’s patronage. Mortimer’s Whole Art of Husbandry of 1707, which invokes Sloane’s authority against those who ‘have a slight Opinion’ of agriculture as a topic for learned engagement, notes the production of ‘English liquors’ as a neglected discipline in need of ‘good management’. 43 Authors such as Mortimer remained unable, or disinclined, to investigate the production of beer directly.

Having a direct interest in the quality of his beer, he is not a dilettante observer; yet he is careful to position himself as neither a specialist nor a self-appointed expert. He addresses his reader as a peer, asserting the legitimacy of his advice through the shared opportunities and obligations of the landed gentry. Like his contemporary Thomas Tryon, Boys published to promote methods which were not generally accepted. 36 Such prescriptions were the result of experiment. 37 Of course, there was no prospect of routinely conveying water some 250 miles to the Betteshanger brewhouse; indeed, we might well imagine the practically minded house servant grumbling at orders to carry water any distance at all to a site where plenty was already to be had.

64 Such men styled themselves not ‘Brewer’ but ‘Gentleman’ or ‘Esquire’ (unless, as occasionally happened, they were knighted), and might be better known for activity in Parliament or other public office than for their beer. Nevertheless, such men typically knew the brewing process at first hand. Most were sons or nephews bred to the trade, while some born outside it, including Whitbread, had served apprenticeships. There were exceptions. 65 Suitably skilled or not, however, most owners delegated their technical responsibilities as capitalization and volumes increased.

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