Raising a glass: 10 women in beer

Hildegarde von Bingen

Hildegard_von_Bingen

Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary. Credit: Wiki

Role: German nun, herbalist, mystic and musician

While “kash” was one of the first incarnations of beer, it was a German nun in the early 17th century that was the first to discover that adding hops to beer radically increased its shelf life. Hildegard von Bingen (b. 1098, d.1179) was a benedictine nun, the Abbess of Diessenberg, and a well known herbalist, mystic and musician. Her writings include the earliest known reference to using hops in beer, in which she writes “Hops, when put in beer, stops putrification and lends longer durability.” Soon after, all beer across Europe had been hopped, almost solely due to von Bingen’s discovery.

Although never canonised, von Bingen is considered by many a saint, having overcome social, cultural, and gender barriers to become an advisor to bishops, popes, and kings.

2 Responses to “Raising a glass: 10 women in beer”

  1. Jaco Hamilton-Attwell says:

    I think you missed an important one: Frieda Dehrmann from SAB/Inbev. She was SAB’s Consumer Science and Sensory Manager, but has since moved up the ladder to a position in SABMiller UK, but I am not sure what her new title is.

  2. “it was a German nun in the early 17th century that was the first to discover that adding hops to beer radically increased its shelf life” Even ignoring “early in the 17th century” when you mean “some time in the 12th century” this is total nonsense: there is no evidence whatsoever that Hildegarde was the first person to discover this. She was the first person known to have written about it: but that’s a very different matter. And in any case, you don’t increase the shelf life of beer merely by adding hops to it: you have to boil the hops in the wort for it to work.

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