When water was often unsafe to drink, people turned to wine. But beer takes a lot less time to make, and is somewhat nutritious besides. Brewing beer is akin to cooking, so making beer became one of the household chores that women performed.
From the Stone Age to the 1700s, ale – and, later, beer – was a household staple for most families in England and other parts of Europe. The drink was an inexpensive way to consume and preserve grains. For the working class, beer provided an important source of nutrients, full of carbohydrates and proteins. Because the beverage was such a common part of the average person's diet, fermenting was, for many women, one of their normal household tasks.
Some enterprising women took this household skill to the marketplace and began selling beer. Widows or unmarried women used their fermentation prowess to earn some extra money, while married women partnered with their husbands to run their beer business.
The difference between making beer at home for the family and selling beer is that one is profitable, so you can see where this is going. Some men thought women should spend their time at home instead of selling beer. Others wanted in on the money to be made. Read how women brewers came to be accused of witchcraft at The Conversation.