Good old days: 14 ales a day

THERE is something oddly comforting about the fact that beer was ranked alongside bread as the most important dietary staple in Elizabethan Ireland.

Some workers were given a daily allowance of 14 pints of strong ale, according to a fascinating study by Dr Susan Flavin, lecturer in early modern history at Anglia Ruskin University in England.

She found that ale and beer were considered an essential source of nutrition, and were consumed in huge quantities.

Records from January 1565 show that stonemasons working at a quarry in Clontarf, Dublin, were provided with an allowance of 14 pints of ale per day by the proctor of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

Documents from Dublin Castle showed that the household staff consumed 264,000 pints of beer in 1590, which averaged up to eight pints each a day.

Dr Flavin now plans to recreate those ales and examine their nutritional value. She will, presumably, have no shortage of volunteers to taste them.

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