I heard a very interesting discussion from Alan Eames on NPR Saturday. He is an anthropologist who specializes in the history of beer. He was explaining that women were the early brew masters (or should we say brew mistresses?) who would use a broom handle or besom (style of broom) as a symbol of their craft and to let clients know they had brew available. They also wore pointed hats to draw attention to their booths at the marketplace. And we all know that cats are good mousers who would have been essential to anyone dealing with grains. Over the years, women have been falsely accused of being evil witches when they were unfortunately involved in political situations. These particular symbols of the brewing industry have taken on a reputation as symbols of witchcraft.
I found the discussion fascinating. Alan D. Eames is the author of The Secret Life of Beer. After hearing him talk, I'm going to have to check out this book. Who would have thought that beer would have had this interesting history? Thanks Alan for the information. Good luck with your continued research.