Historical recipe: Buttered beere

  • Difficulty 3/10

In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates buttered beere – a sweet, slightly alcoholic drink that warmed the cockles in Tudor times


This is an authentic Tudor recipe from 1588, taken from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin. It’s similar to a caudle, a drink of warm wine or ale with sugar, eggs and spices, renowned for its medicinal properties and popular at the same period.

I love mulled wines and ciders, so the idea of this drink really appealed to me. The smells wafting through my kitchen while I was making it were delicious, though the drink itself was a bit, well, ‘robust’ – great when you’ve just come inside on a cold winter’s day, but for ordinary drinking a bit too heavy for me. My partner loved it, though – he drank the lot!



  • 1,500ml of good-quality ale
  • 200g demerara or other natural brown sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped into small lumps
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground ginger


  • Step 1

    Pour the ale gently into a large saucepan and stir in the ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the ale clears.

  • Step 2

    While the ale is simmering, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is light and creamy. Remove the spiced ale from the hob, add the egg yolk and sugar mixture, and stir until all ingredients are well blended.

  • Step 3

    Return to a low heat until the liquid starts to thicken, taking care not to overheat.

  • Step 4

    Simmer for five minutes, then add the chopped butter and heat until it has melted. Hand-whisk the liquid until it becomes frothy.

  • Step 5

    Continue to heat for 10 minutes, then allow to cool to a drinkable temperature. Give the mixture another  whisk, serve into a jug or small glasses (or tankards!) and drink while still warm.

Recipe from

This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine