Sunday, July 02, 2006
'Deoppilative virtue': A Treatise of Warm Beer
I am not at all a hot weather person. I cycled this morning, and returned so over-heated, thirsty and tired that I set about a large amount of Pepsi Max full of ice cubes, and spent the rest of the afternoon slumped in front of the Tour de France coverage (otherwise, 'Let's try and get excited about the also-rans of previous years') with a mild headache.
In committing this minor folly, I ignored the wisdom of the anonymous author of this unlikely treatise of 1641, which spends 143 pages recommending that you take your drink (taken as virtually synonymous with beer) warm rather than cold.
The medical grounds for doing this seem overwhelming to the author. One F.W., writing a preface, argues that you can see that cold beer hinders the digestion if you inspect what people who overdo it on the cold stuff throw up. The author himself energetically defends a series of major and minor propositions on warm beer preventing the stone, making women more fertile, slowing down the aging process (and many more benefits), and certainly being something we should partake of if we want to follow the ancients, who, in their wisdom, he proves by extensive quotation, took their drink hot.
The argument that swung it for me came on the penultimate page, where he notes "That it [hot drink] is used at this day among whole nations I will prove by Giovani Petro Massei the Jesuite, who in his 6. booke of histories writes that they of China do for the most part drink the strained liquor of a herb called Chia hot". I too felt restored after a cup of cha (in English from 1616, the OED indicates, with an advertisment in Mercurius Politicus, 30 Sept. 1658 throughly informed about "That excellent drink called by the Chineans Tcha, by other nations Tay alias Tee." I shall demand a deoppilative (ie., obstruction-clearing) warm beer in the pub later on this evening. At least I think so.