When did we drink water again?

#1
I've heard that in the middle ages, people didn't drink water because it was full of bacteria. They only drank beer because it was nutritious and was boiled. But when did people in northern europe drink water again?
 

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
#5
Beer (meaning English ale: lager is a little different, but is still boiled) is made, briefly, by steeping malted barley in water at around 70 degrees C.

This causes fermentable sugars to be created (mainly maltose, but also dextrins), and the water (known in brewing as liquor) is drained off, and the spent grains very carefully rinsed (a process known as sparging- there's a word!). The collected liquor is then brought to the boil, and hops are added, the whole lot is boiled vigorously for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Once cooled to around 18 degrees C, yeast is added and primary fermentation is commenced. Providing there's no anti- yeast nasties in there, the primary fermentation process also kills some bacteria, and hops themselves are antiseptic and purifying. Lager is made in a similar way. Hence, beer was safer to drink, although one 18th century London brewery drew its water from the Thames, about 100 yards downstream from the public privies which emptied straight into the river!

"Corporations" were founded during the late 18th century to try and improve public health via understanding drainage and cleaning water. Cholera, Typhus and other common diseases were made far more endemic due to the explosive growth of British towns.
 
Nov 2008
70
Portugal
#6
Fountains? Of course any non-fountain water was a little risky... But in Portugal we had wine, lots of wine. I think it was the main thing people in Portugal drunk in the medieval ages.
 

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