Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast with Mark Rees - real-life Welsh ghost stories and folk tales

The Dark History of Beer; or, How a Welsh witch invented mead: Ghosts and Folklore of Wales with Mark Rees podcast EP15

Join me for a journey in search of the Welsh enchantress who brewed beer in her cauldron, the Gothic folklore surrounding alcohol at funerals, and other macabre traditions from “weird” Wales

Welcome to the 15th episode of my “curious” Ghosts and Folklore of Wales podcast – the “dark history of beer”!

It’s all about alcohol and folklore, and I really feel like I’ve captured some of the energy and spontaneity from my Ghosts of Wales – Live! events on this episode of the podcast.

As I’m sure regular listeners have noticed, I don’t script my episodes (ha, I think that’s obvious!), but I usually have a rough roadmap in my mind of where I’d like the episode to go.

What stories to include, for example, or what to start and end with, but that’s about it. As a listener I’ve always hated things that sound like they’re being read off an autocue, and I want to avoid doing that myself.

It must be my in-built punk rocker who lies dormant most of the time nowadays, but occasionally raises their head to and tells me to hit the record button and see what happens.

“Did you know that women used to hold secret cheese and beer parties when the men weren’t looking?”

Mark Rees

That’s exactly what I did with this episode of the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast and, as a result, we have an episode which began life innocently enough by looking at why beer is considered to be the “national drink of Wales”, before veering off on more tangents than you can shake a stick at.

Beer, witchcraft, funerals and the sin-eater

For example, did you know that this frothy beverage has connections with the fantastical tale of Ceridwen and Taliesin, and that it began life (apparently) in the magical cauldron of a Welsh witch?

Or how about the macabre role that a pint of ale played in the funerals of old? That by using the correct bits of folk knowledge you can avoid hangovers? And that one of the most infamous drinks in Wales for causing one of those hangovers is nicknamed “Skull Attack”?

I even managed to shoehorn in one of my favourite bits of obscure folklore: did you know that women used to hold secret cheese and beer parties when the men weren’t looking?

Yes, secret cheese and beer parties when the men weren’t looking – I kid you not!

I hope you enjoy this episode of the Ghosts & Folklore podcast, and remember – it’s the best, it’s the beautiful, it’s the ONLY Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast, beaming to you from Cymru to the world.

Until next time – cheers, iechyd da, prost, chin chin and bottom’s up! *hic*

Mark Rees

Looking for more podcast episodes? Check out last week’s: The Realm of Faerie: The secret origin of the fairy folk of Wales

Looking for more Gothic Welsh history? How about… the dog of darkness!

Have you heard about the “dog of darkness” which stalks the haunted lanes at night? This “hound of hell” has patrolled the Welsh roads of centuries, and bears many similarities with other four-legged paranormal creatures seen across Britain and Ireland. But what exactly is the Gwyllgi, how dangerous is it, and what does it have to do with Dylan Thomas?

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Read more curious Welsh tales

The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees
The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees

For more about the curious customs of Wales – and Ceridwen, Taliesin, the Sin Eater and and many other weird and wonderful Welsh curiosities – check out The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees, available now from all good bookshops and online.