I Wonder Why We Abandoned the Practice of Purifying Beer With Pig's Feet?
Richard Unger's Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Penn, 2004) is one of my favorite books about beer. As I turn my attention to Germany and lagers, I have found it indispensable as an overview of the literature. Plus, it has passages like this, referring to technological advances during the renaissance:
"Brewers resorted to a number of options to eliminate impurities and unprocessed vegetable matter. They tried a pig's or ox's foot but also burned salt, clean sand, ground oak bark, and the more modern option of dried fish membranes as finings to make for a clearer beer. Bruges brewers skinned the feet of oxen and calves, boiled them to get rid of the hooves, and then hung them along with other items like berries or an egg, in a bag in the brewing kettle."I just wonder if we haven't all been a little hasty in dispatching with the use of feet and eggs in the purification of our beer. (Eggs, it turns out, were a regular feature in brewing across Europe during the late middle ages and renaissance.)