Hops, Barley, Water & Drugs?
It is a given that Real Ale should contain hops, barley and water, many breweries pride themsleved on the purity of their beers, whilst some are known for adding other ingredients, like fruit, herbs, coffee &c. But one woud not expect to have to drink beer laced with a narcotic. In the 19thC sometimes 'Grains of Paradise' (Aframomum Melegueta - Melegueta Pepper) were added, and if the brewer was caught the consequences were severe...
Stourbridge Observer 26/11/1864
"Theresa Gwilt, residing at the FOX AND GOOSE, The Level, was charged on two informations with having on the 23rd of September last, in her possession, a quantity of grains of paradise, and with using the same in the brewing of ale, for each offence of which she was liable to a penalty of £200.
Mr. Perry, of Stourbridge, appeared to prosecute, and in opening the case said that the information was laid under the 56 George III cap., sec.2, by which the having and using of grains of paradise, by a brewer, were constituted two distinct offences. Mr. Elsworth defended.
John Evans deposed, that he was an excise officer, in the Brierley Hill district. I knew defendant to be a retailer of beer who resides at the Level, in my district. On the 22nd of September last, I visited the defendant, who is a licensed victualler, at this house (the FOX AND GOOSE). I saw the defendant going into the brewhouse. I examined the spent hops in the sieve, over the mashtub. He (sic) brewed on the 22nd of September. I examined the hops and found that they contained grains of paradise. After I examined them, I saw a young man who took me into the place, and showed me the hops. There were grains of paradise in them. I then fetched Miss Gwilt, who went into the brewhouse with me. I pointed out the hops, and the grains of paradise to her. She replied that she knew nothing about it. I took a sample and made them into three parcels, and delivered two to the supervisor of the district; the other I retained in my possession, and is the one I now produce, which was sealed and not opened until this morning.Edward Thomas deposed, that he was Supervisor for the Inland Revenue for the Stourbridge district, and said he received two parcels from Mr. Evans, sealed with his initials, and forwarded them to the principal of the laboratory at Somerset House, London, on the 29th of September last. On the 24th of September, I went to Miss Gwilt’s, to make a report, and informed her that I had received a report from Mr. Evers (sic), in which he stated he had taken hops from her which contained grains of paradise. She said she knew nothing about it. At my request defendant went into the brewhouse, and fetched some of the spent hops. I examined them and found that they contained grains of paradise, which I pointed out to Miss Gwilt. She replied again that she knew nothing about it; her mother had the management of the brewing; but on the 22nd of September a young man, a neighbour of theirs said that his mother had kept a public house, and they let him brew for them. Before she denied having any grains of paradise, and said that they must have been in the hops. Some new hops were sent for, and he examined them, but did not find any grains of paradise in them. The defendant then said I hope you will look it over, as I have not long commenced business and it would be the ruin of me. She then burst into tears. I told her I had no power to look over it, and must report it.
Courtesy Hitchough's Black Country Pubs