Most recently updated August 18, 2015
I am chagrined each time I see someone online asking whether there are period sources. You bet there are! Here is a running list of historical primary sources for brewers. Secondary sources are on another blog post, yet another has modern how-to books, and there’s one with books about bees and honey.
Most of what’s on this page is from before 1600 ACE, though there are a couple of later (Elizabethan) receipt books included. Clearly my eleven-page bibliography needs to become a searchable database available from this site, but until it is, I’ll publish it in flat form here. Any corrections and suggested additions are welcome.
Some of these sources are more about medical matters or the essential nature of alcohol (Hippocrates, Galen), but if you want to understand the classical approach and much of medieval thinking, they’re valuable to read. Most of these have been translated, edited and include notes. (Editors just can’t resist commenting, not that I can blame them.)
Note that I have not linked most of these to online sources. Many you can find on Amazon, but check Google Books, Google Scholar, the Gutenberg Project and your local library first. I dream of being able to carry my entire historical library on my Kindle, and be able to search it easily on the spot when I’m teaching a class.
So, my personal collection of period brewing sources, including wines, beers, meads, and cordials:
A Description of Northern Peoples: Rome 1555 . Olaus Magnus. Several volumes. Ed. Peter Godfrey Foote, John Granlund; transl. Peter Fisher, Humphrey Higgens. Published by Hakluyt Society. Digitized June 30, 2011. ISBN 0904180433, 9780904180435. see also Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus: Romae 1555.
Airs, Waters, Places Hippocrates. Jones, W.H.S. (ed). Harvard University Press, Massachusetts. 1984.
An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century, transl.Charles Perry et al. http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Andalusian/andalusian10.htm#Heading485, lsst accessed March 28, 2008
An Edition of Reynolds MS 1. Major, Charles Tidmarsh. Diss. U. of Georgia, 1999. Fourteenth century English manuscript which includes a collection of Middle English household and medical recipes as well as a recipe for mead and metheglin. Parts (including the mead recipe) are available at http://www.uab.edu/reynold.
Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq’s Tenth-Century Baghdadi Cookbook. al-Warraq, Ibn Sayyar. Translated by N. Nasrallah.
Bechbretha: An Old Irish Law-Tract On Beekeeping Charles-Edwards, Thomas, and Kelly, Fergus (Eds) (1983). Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, W. & S. Magowan, Dublin & Dundalk.
The Booke of Quinte Essence or the Fifth Being: That Is To Say, Man’s Heaven. Trismegestus, Hermes. Ed. F.J. Furnivall. Nabu Press, 2011. I believe this is a 42pp collection by Jean to Roquetaillade (John of Rupescissa), a 14th c. Franciscan monk with a cure-all that is the earliest cordial recipe I know of that includes fruit. Available on Amazon.
The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened: Whereby is Discovered Several ways for making of Metheglin, Sider, Cherry-Wie, &c. Together with Excellent Directions for Cookery As also for Preserving, Conserving, Candying, &c. Digbie, Sir Kenelme (1669). H. Brome, London. Reproduced by the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, 1967.
Country House Brewing in England Sambrook, Pamela. 1500-1900. The Hambledon Press, 1996; ISBN10 1852851279, ISBN13 9781852851279
Curye on Inglysch (Middle English recipes) (Early English Text Society Supplementary Series). Hieatt, Constance B., and Sharon Butler. Early English Text Society. Second Series 8. London: Oxford UP, 1985
Dalby, Andrew. Geoponica: ‘Farm Work’. Prospect Books, 2011. See also Owens’ translation listed below.
Daz Buch von Guter Spise: Aus der Wuerzburg-Muenchner Handschrift._ Texte des Spaten Mittelalters. Hajek, Hans. ed. Heft 8. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag, 1958. 61pp. The original “Book of Good Food” is a collection of recipes organized by Michael de Leone, the “proto-notary of the Archibishop of Würzburg”, and dates to 1345-1354. You can find the original on Google Books, but there’s no eBook, you have to buy a copy. A translation was available on the web at http://www.cs.bu.edu/students/grads/akatlas/Buch/buch.html, but I haven’t been able to open that lately. There is only one mead recipe out of 101, and there is a translation here, though I cannot say how accurate it is: http://elenaselixirs.weebly.com/ein-buch-von-guter-spise. The author of this site says there is an 1884 translation one should avoid.
De Re Coquinaria, Caelius Apicius. Original Latin copies collected and curated in the last fifty years are hard to find, but here’s one: http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/apicius.html . Grainger and Grocock’s edition (Prospect Books, UK, 2006) has Latin with English Translation: http://www.amazon.com/Apicius-Critical-Introduction-English-Translation/dp/1903018137/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361220259&sr=1-1&keywords=Apicius+latin (also on Secondary Sources list)
Decretum, Punishments For Drunk Monks 1000 Years Ago Burchard of Worms,. Written first half of the 11th century.
Delightes for Ladies Plat, Sir Hugh. Humfrey Lowens, London, 1602. London: Crosby Lockwood & Sons, Ltd., 1948.
Distiller’s Apprentice : I have this by reputation only, I have not found a citation yet. Supposedly English circa 1610-1615.
The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households In The Time Of Ivan the Terrible. Pouncy, Carolyn Johnston (1995). Cornell University Press, New York.
Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book: Elizabethan England Country Cooking. Spurling, Hilary. Faber and Faber, 2011 (Reed Business Information 1987 edition out of print). ISBN: 0571247334, ISBN-13:978-0571247332; Viking Adult, 1987; ISBN10 0670815926, ISBN13 9780670815920
The Elixirs of Nostradamus: Nostradamus’ Original Recipes For Elixirs, Scented Water, Beauty Potions and Sweetmeats. Boeser, Knut, ed. London: Moyer Bell, 1996. Print.
The English Housewife Markham, Gervase, 1615. Best, Michael R., ed. McGill-Queen’ s University Press, 1986, 1998, 2003; ISBN10 0773511032,
The Feminine Monarchie, Or, A Treatise concerning bees and the Due Ordering of them. Butler, Charles. Oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1609.
Funff Bucher von der Gottlichen Und Edlenn Gabe Der Philosophischen Hochthewren und Wunderbaren Kunst Bier Zu Brawen. Heinrich Knaust, 1577. Erfurt, Germany. [I’m sure there are umlauts in there but I’m not sure where.]
Goodman of Paris Powers, Eileen trans. 1392/4 (London: Routledge, 1928).
The Good Husewifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, pub. 1588. One source: Bristol: Historical Management Associates Ltd., 1992. Reprint of the original edition of 1588. ISBN 1858040035. Another source with digital notes by Sam Wallace, 1594 and 1597 editions: http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/ghhk/ . There are others out there, so it’s worth looking around to decide what you want to use as a “definitive” or most original version.
Jewell House of Art and Nature (1594) Platt, Hugh. London: Walter J. Johnson, 1979. Also see Bent Juel-Jensen, “Some Uncollected Authors, XIX: Sir Hugh Plat (?1552-?1611),” The Book Collector 8 (1959): 60-68: “Plat’s writings are fascinating documents of the everyday life of an inquisitive and versatile man” and his Jewel House of Art and Nature is a “compendium of good advice on every conceivable topic.” Includes “The Making of a Braggot, which is Many Times Mistaken for a Muskadel by the Simple Sort of People”.
Kitab al-Aghani. Vol. xxi al-Isfahani, Abu ‘l-Farraq 1992. Al-Hay’a al-Misriyya al-‘Amma li al-Kitab. Cairo.
Ladie Borlase’s Receiptes Booke Schoonover, David E, ed. University of Iowa Press, 1998; ISBN10 0877456364, ISBN13 9780877456360
Lady Anderson’s Receipt Book: The experienced English house-keeper : for the use and ease of ladies, house-keepers, cooks, &c. : wrote purely from practice and dedicated to the Hon. Lady Elizabeth Warburton … : consisting of near 800 original receipts, most of which never appeared in print, Printed by J. Harrop for the author, and sold by Messrs. Fletcher and Anderson … London, and by Eliz. Raffald, confectioner … Manchester (1769). ASIN: B007SZLDRO
Le Ménagier de Paris, or The Goodwife’s Guide. Trans. Greco, Gina L. and Rose, Christine M. Cornell University Press; First Edition 2009. ISBN-10: 0801474744; ISBN-13: 978-0801474743
Liber de Vinis de Villanova, Arnaldus. 1478. Arguably the first wine book to be mass printed, but it’s wine from a medical standpoint.
Libre del Coch. Nola, Roberto de. 1520. Ed. Veronika Leimgruber. Barcelona: Curial Edicions Catalanes, 1977. Mostly food, but three notable beverage recipes: Spices for Clarea, Clarea from Water, and Spices for Hippocras. English translation available on Stefan’s Florilegium; see the Secondary Sources list.
Maison Rustique Estienne, Charles, trans. by Jean Libault? (1535-1596).
Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery Hess, Karen, ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981, 1995; ISBN10 0231049315, ISBN13 9780231049313.
Medical Formulary, or Aqrabadhin, of Al-Kindi. Levey, Martin. 1966. The 1 vols, The University of Wisconsin publications in medieval science. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Meede [plain or spiced mead] Clutius, Theodorus 1597. Van de Byen. Leiden: Jan Claesz van Dorp.
Naturalis Historia, or Natural History Pliny the Elder, c. 77AD.
Owen T, trans. (1805-1806) Geoponika: Agricultural Pursuits (J. White, London). See also Dalby’s translation, above.
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. Hieatt, Constance; Hosington, Brenda; and Butler, Sharon (2004). University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
Poems of Wine and Revelry: The Khamriyyat of Abu Nouwas Coleville, Jim. 2005. Kegan Paul Arabia Library
Le Viandier de Taillevent, probably by Guillaume Tirel. There are four manuscripts; the earliest dates to late thirteenth to early fourteenth century. Includes a chapter on wine treatments, and a recipe for hypocras. There is a hardback version on Amazon, and James Prescott also has a version posted here: http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/data/viandier/viandier1.html
Vinetum Estienne, Charles, 1537. First modern book on grape growing and wine-making technique.