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Local Life

ABOVE: In addition to locally-grown barley, Jo C’s Norfolk Ales also include a carefully-selected range of top quality hops – including three of England’s finest varieties. The result is a range of truly delicious and full-flavoured beers

Jo C’s return to a world of women brewers... On the Barsham Estate near Fakenham, Jo Coubrough is busy producing a range of locally-brewed ales, continuing a tradition of female ‘brewsters’ that stretches back thousands of years

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t probably hasn’t escaped your notice that locally-produced craft beer is currently all the rage, as more and more drinkers are opting to buy ales which have been lovingly made in micro-breweries using high quality, local and traceable ingredients. It’s partly due to changing attitudes to food production and values, but it’s also because these local brews simply taste so good. Tucked away in rural north Norfolk, at The Old Store on the Barsham Estate near Fakenham, Jo Coubrough is a successful part of this movement, thanks to her very own brewery and its

KLmagazine August 2014

range of Jo C’s Norfolk Ales. But this demand for locally-produced and lovingly-crafted beer isn’t a modern fashion at all – and neither is the fact that Jo C’s Norfolk Ale is brewed by a woman. It may come as something as a surprise to learn that brewing was originally (and traditionally) a trade practised by women. Four thousand years before the birth of Christ, women brewers (‘brewsters’ is the feminine form of the word) enjoyed great prestige making dozens of kinds of beer in Babylon and Sumeria. These Sumerian women even had the

distinction of being the only tradespeople with private gods. Only women were allowed to brew and they made beer from ingredients such as spices, peppers, tree bark, and even powdered crab claws. Women also ran the beer halls and taverns, and in the oldest existing book of law (dating to 1500-2000BC) it’s said that “if a beer seller do not receive barley as the price of beer, but if she receive money or make the beer measure smaller than the barley measure received, the judges shall throw the brewster into the water.” In ancient Egypt, women brewed

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KL Magazine August 2014  
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