Brewer - brouwer

Leeuwenhoek's mother, Margaretha Bel van den Berch, came from a family of brewers and cloth merchants. On May 16, 1716, van Leeuwenhoek wrote to Gerard van Loon:

My grand- and great-grandfathers were brewers, and my grandmother was the daughter of a brewer.

At the time, low-alcohol beers, safer to drink than water, were the common everyday beverage of everyone, including children, who ate bierenbrood, bread boiled in beer.

Luyken's image (right) shows the brewer's two biggest problems: barrels, and clean, fresh water. Both were scarce in Holland, the water because of textile-industy pollution and sea salt that leaked into the system of canals. Fresh water had to be imported in special ships and carefully poured into barrels.