Margery Kempe and Her Failed Brewing Enterprise

Known as an Christian Mystic, Kempe is most famous for writing The Book of Margery Kempe, completed around 1438, wherein she described her life, her flaws, her discussions with God, and her pilgrimages. One such instance was of her brewing. According to her own account, she began to brew ‘out of pure covetousness and in order to maintain her pride’. She stated that she rose to become one of the greatest brewers in her town until she a lot of her money after three or four years because she was totally inexperienced.

According to her writings,

‘For, although, she had ever such good servants and knowledge of brewing, things would not go successfully for them. For, when the ale had as fine a head on it as could be seen, suddenly the head would fall away, and all the ale would be lost one brew after another, so her servants were ashamed and did not wish to stay with her. Then this creature though how God had punished her before, and she could not take heed, and now again through the loss of her money; and them she left off and brewed no more’.[1]

Kempe is interesting to the study of brewing women not only for her failed attempt at brewing but also because her account demonstrates the continuity and also possible financial gain of women in the brewing field in this period. If you want to read more from her book, the link is below!

[1] Book of Margary Kempe, Chapter 2.