Still think of home brewing as an old boys club? Novelist Jane Austen didn’t. The titan of literature may best be remembered for her Regency-era prose, but to her friends she was also known for another creative pursuit—making beer.
Elizabeth Ham, a contemporary of Austen, once wrote, “No one in these days ever dreamt of drinking water.” People understood boiling and fermenting a beverage decreased one’s chances of contracting diseases like cholera, making beer the healthy beverage of choice. Mental Floss reports on this, adding that even children of the time drank beer.
Austen’s specialty? Spruce beer. An avid brewer, she once wrote to her sister, “It is you…who have the little children and I that have the great cask, for we are brewing spruce beer again.”
The Austen family mead recipe still exists, but sadly most of her other recipes have been lost over time. However, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England, recently brewed the “Jane Austen 200,” in honor of her 200th birthday. They also have their own spruce beer recipe for those feeling particularly inspired by the late writer to take up brewing themselves.
Jane Austen wasn’t the only writer who drew inspiration from alcohol. Check out The Story (and Recipe) Behind the Hemingway Daiquiri.