In the nineteenth century, many brewers saw new chemical additives as the key to a cheaper, reliable product. Drinkers, however, suspected that dangerous poisons were involved, while government agencies feared the tax-dodging possibilities of the new methods. This talk explores how chemists worked (and sometimes failed) to convince brewers and the public that their methods were respectable, including a live demonstration of the art of the ‘beer doctor’.
Dr James Sumner is Lecturer in the History of Technology at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester. He is the author of “Brewing Science, Technology and Print, 1700-1880 (Science & Culture in the Nineteenth Century)” (Routledge, 2013) and a regular presenter at public events on the history of science and technology.