This article examines the relationship between patents, appropriability strategies, and market for technology in the English brewing industry before 1850. Previous research has pointed to the apparent paradox that large-scale brewing in this period showed both a self-aware culture of rapid technological innovation and a remarkably low propensity to patent. Our study records how brewery innovators pursued a wide variety of highly distinct appropriability strategies, including secrecy, selective revealing, open innovation and knowledge-sharing for reputational reasons, and patenting. All these strategies could co-exist, although some brewery insiders maintained a suspicion of the promoters of patent technologies, which faded only in the nineteenth century. Furthermore, we find evidence that sophisticated strategies of selective revealing could support trade in inventions even without the use of the patent system.