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Researching Beer at the Pratt

Posted In: Collections, State Library Resource Center
Permanent Link   All Posts

By Michael K Johnson

I’ve been helping a couple researchers find things about beer this week. Mostly about the history of brewing, social customs, where people drank (everywhere), what people drank (everything) and whether it was good or evil (lots of opinions on both sides).

We’ve got a great collection of books on the history of all things “cookery” (beware strange library subject headings). It's been the perfect opportunity to dig around a little bit in the Frederick Philip Stieff Collection.

Beastly Drunks

History of Beer and Brewing: Drinks of the World (1892) and Inns, Ales & Drinking Customs of Old England (1909) cover everything from the origins of brewing, to restrictions and legislation surrounding the brewing and selling of ales, to the temperamental qualities of a good Innkeeper.

In Tavern Anecdotes (1875) (Image above) you can see the many different types of drinkers, from the happy to the brawlers, to the "not feeling so well". (Sidenote: I found a slightly less clean version of this that I decided not to post.)

History of Inns and Taverns – Most of what we have is about England and Europe from ancient days to the 20th c., Inns and Taverns of Old London (1909) and The Inns of Greece & Rome (1928), but we’ve got America covered too. Early American Inns and Taverns (1946) takes you down the eastern seaboard to places to get a beer in the late 1700s.

Drinking songs – And if you’re one of those folks who likes to break out into song over a round, why not break out something new, or really, really old:

Beer, beer, glorious beer!
Fill youselves right up to here!
Drink a good deal of it – make a good meal of it,
Stick to your old fashion’d beer!
Don’t be afraid of it – drink till you’re made of it – Now altogether, a cheer!
Up with the sale of it – down with a pail of it –
Glorious, glorious beer!

From A Tankard of Ale (1920) by Theodore Maynard

Give us a call in Special Collections if you want to take a look at these books or anything else in the Stieff Collection. There's lots more!


This is pretty neat-- the Pratt has some cool special collections! Also very timely in light of all the articles recently in the local news about new craft breweries opening in Baltimore. Also making me want to read Rob Kasper's Baltimore Beer: A Satisfying History of Baltimore Brewing. Also, making me thirsty. :)
Posted by: Marion the Librarian at 6/27/2012 9:22 a.m.


Wow, that all looks really interesting! I'd like to take a look at the old books in person someday.

I see that there are bunch of scans of historic items in the Pratt's Digital Collections with some relation to beer too - old signs and ads for for National Beer, Arrow, Gunther...and some nice drawings of old Baltimore taverns in the Cator Collection: http://epfl.mdch.org/cdm/search/searchterm/beer%20ale%20tavern/field/all/mode/any/conn/and/order/title
Posted by: Teresa at 6/28/2012 11:52 a.m.


Thanks for the comments. Beer's always a fun topic! There's so much history, new and old, for beer in Baltimore. And so much to learn.

I love those Cator Prints! Thanks for including them, Teresa. It's so cool to be able to peer back into Baltimore Beer History!
Posted by: Michael Johnson( Visit ) at 6/28/2012 1:32 p.m.


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