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The Controversies of Brewing Science around 1800
August 14 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pmFree
Speaker: Dr James Sumner, Senior Lecturer in the History of Technology at the University of Manchester
In 1809 a London brewery was prosecuted for the unusual offence of trying to remove cloudiness from its beer by dosing it with an extract of fish-skins. “Keep your stinking fish to yourselves,” thundered the Solicitor-General – and yet the brewers won the case. Drawing on trial records and Excise correspondence at The National Archives, this talk discusses the challenges brewers faced in promoting new innovations to an often justifiably suspicious public, and how they enlisted scientific reputations in support of their cause.
Key to their victory was the star witness, Humphry Davy, famous for his chemical discoveries and the most successful public communicator of science of his generation. Davy’s evidence was technical – the substance, he said, sank to the bottom of the vessel and did not make its way into the drinker’s pot – but it was his authoritative status that won the day.
Drawing on trial records and Excise correspondence held in our collection, this talk discusses the challenges brewers faced in promoting new innovations to an often justifiably suspicious public, and how they enlisted scientific reputations in support of their cause.
This online talk will be presented via the FLOW platform.
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