Ale Watmer Ale Warmer In Britain and other beer-drinking countries, warm ale was a popular winter drink when heated on its own or mulled with spice and sugar. Many people believed that ale was healthier drunk warm, and then there was a fondness for sweetened warm ale with nutmeg. If you added a measure of rum or brandy the mixture was called flip, and was popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1600´s, 1700´s and 1800´s.
 
In Britain mulled ale was popular and there were recipes for flip published in cookery books. However, it was sometimes seen as slightly disreputable because it was associated with boisterous sailors from the 1600´s
 
Men drinking at an inn or at home by the hearth did not necessarily want to wait for someone in the kitchen to warm up ale or flip in a pan, so they used a hot poker from the fire. Slightly more hygienic and avoiding any burnt taste, were the flip-irons set aside for warming drinks. They may have gone from jug to jug, tankard to tankard, but at least they were free of ash. Some had rounded heads like the iron rods used to heat pots of tar, and were called loggerheads. Flip-dog and hottle are other names that were used.

Ale Warmer 5In Britain two styles of ale warmer or muller developed, probably during the 1700´s and both could be used at the fireside.
 
Ale Warmer 5One was boot-shaped. You could stick the "toe" into the fire and let the heat spread through the ale inside. These were called boots or slippers, and sometimes shoes.
 
The other style was a simple cone to be stuck point-down into the heat from the top of the fire. Perhaps these would work best on a coal fire, although you could press them into a deep pile of glowing ash from a log fire. They were particularly widespread in 1800´s Britain, where coal fires were the norm.
 
Over time the attractive copper ale mullers became something people enjoyed seeing around a fireplace. Along with well-polished warming pans or bed warmers, copper kettles, toasting forks etc. a copper ale muller developed an aura of comfortable tradition, evoking a cosy past when the hearth was warmer and a focal point of the room around which people would gather.
 
Bierwärmer
Ale Warmer 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A German beer warmer that was a cleaner alternative to the poker
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In Germany and Austria some people warm their beer with a Bierwärmer, although they may be seen as old-fashioned. It is a tube that you fill with boiling water before putting it in your mug. It has a hook to hang it over the side, often with a stand to hold it when it's not in the beer. Old ones are tin as shown in the photograph but fancier ones were made of opalescent glass, or even silver. Some people used to use a metal rod that was heated in boiling water. There are some vintage 1950´s electric immersion beer warmers too. Inns used to keep beer warmers for customers' drinks, but this has died out as it contravenes modern hygiene regulations.