Hot ale with spices such as ginger, nutmeg cinnamon, sometimes formerly including thickeners such as egg.
The Rat, meanwhile, was busy examining the label on one of the beer-bottles. `I perceive this to be Old Burton,' he remarked approvingly. 'SENSIBLE Mole! The very thing! Now we shall be able to mull some ale! Get the things ready, Mole, while I draw the corks.'
It did not take long to prepare the brew and thrust the tin heater well into the red heart of the fire; and soon every field-mouse was sipping and coughing and choking (for a little mulled ale goes a long way) and wiping his eyes and laughing and forgetting he had ever been cold in all his life.
(From 'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame, illustration by Arthur Rackham)
Original Receipt in 'The Modern domestic cookery, and useful receipt book' by Elizabeth Hammond (Hammond 1819)
Boil a quart of good ale with some nutmegs beat up six eggs, and mix them with a little cold ale then pour the hot ale to it, and return it several times to prevent it from curdling 'till warm, and stir it till sufficiently thick, add a piece of butter or a glass of brandy, and serve it with dry toast.
Such was the popularity of Mulled Ale in winter that tin or copper ale warmers, or mullers, were available to be pushed into a glowing fire.
"An old-time but useful article. It is an exceedingly handy vessel for sticking into a fire, and rapidly heating any kind of thin liquid. It can readily be made out of either tinplate or copper."
From: 'Practical sheet and plate metal work', 1912
Slipper-type ale warmer
'The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction' for Saturday, December 29, 1827 has; "In many towns in Cumberland it is the practice on Christmas Eve to roast apples before the fire on a string, and hold under them a bowl of spiced ale (called there mulled ale) and let them roast on until they drop into the ale."
For other species of spicebeer, see:
Caudel or Caudle
Lamb's Wool, or Lamasool
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