A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Knut -

Two nominees:
Hank Williams - There's a Tear in my Beer
Cindy Walker - Bubbles in my Beer

gr -

I win, dammit. Look at my 'Beer blog' piggy plaque for best reference to beer in art. (Ha! 17 word essay!)

Justin -

Hey Alan,

Great contest! Here is your winner - the 4th verse of Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music" references homebrew!

Way down south they gave a jubilee,
The jockey folks they had a jamboree,
Theyre drinkin homebrew from a water cup,
The folks dancin they all got shook up
And started playin that
Rock and roll music ....

That has to be the best reference to homebrew in rock and roll history!


Todd -

The music references are good, but how can we pass by one of the greatest playwrights in history? In Act III, Scene 2 of Henry V, we find this quote from one of the solders during a battle:

"Would I were in an alehouse in London! I would give
all my fame for a pot of ale and safety."

Words that have lasted for over 400 years, and still convey the warm atmosphere that we all look for in our favorite pub.


Paul -

From Shakespear's King Henry VI Part II, Act IV, Scene II

"Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it a felony to drink small beer. All the realm hall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfry go to grass; and when I am king, as king I will be,--

A fine reference to the foolishness of drinking weak ale. I think there is something about lawyers at the end of that scene as well.

Paul -

Okay – an essay was asked for and an essay it must be. Shakespeare has words of sage advice to us – the progeny of his fellow beer drinkers.

From Othello, Iago judges,
“She that was ever fair, and never proud,
Had tongue at will, and yet was never loud...
She that could think, and ne’er disclose her mind,
See suitors following, and not look behind.
She was a wight, if ever such wight were—
To suckle fools and chronicle small beer.”

From Henry VI, the rebel Jack Cade boasts,
“Be brave; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation.
There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny;
Three-hooped pots shall have ten hoops;
And I will make it a felony to drink small beer?”

From Henry IV, Prince Hal wonders,
“Doth it not show vilely in me to desire small beer?”

All in all, if one interprets “small beer” to be weak beer, the wise Bard cautions us away from the Bud dry draft lite ice beer-flavoured water to the wholesomeness and comfort of good strong ale (á la Todd’s Henry V reference)!

+-> Paul

Alan -

Small beer is not so much weak as the day-to-day fluid of the average Joe circa 1595 when water was largely a non-hygenic alternative. It is banal. Three-hooped pots? Is that a drinking vessel or a brewing one?

gr -

As the beer blog resident potter, I wonder, Alan, if the hoops were perhaps rings around handmade mugs incised by the potter. Historically, pots have had measures of some kind, and this would have been visually easy to recognize, no reading needed. This would be used in an attempt to standardize portion size (we do it now with our glasses in bars, as you know). So, a small mug (small beer)had room for only 3 hoops or rings around the mug, monster jumbo had 10 rings? Just a guess based on my knowledge and that portion of writing above.

Paul -

I don't know nothin' bout no pots!

I recalled the first small beer reference because of its preceeding position to that other quote about killing lawyers (a tribute to their value to an orderly society)- the rest I just googled.

gr -

Paul, I think it would be wise for all of us to fill some not small mugs and discuss this further. Snacks would help.

Paul -

Gary - A great idea. But how?

gr -

Paul, I thought I heard Alan say that he was hosting a party in his basement, adjacent to the stash room, with darts and foosball. He will no doubt provide directions, times and the rest. What's a few hundred mile drive for a good party?

Paul -

Well then, it's a date! ALthough I expect you have access to the better goods than I.

Paul - prisoner of the KGB-CO in Kingston gulag.

Paul -

anything to de-emphasize my head would be an improvement for sure.

Paul -

I just came across this "made to order" gem on the Scotch-Irish web site:

The Workman's Friend
When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night -
A pint of plain is your only man.
When money's tight and is hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt -
A pint of plain is your only man.

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say that you need a change,
A pint of plain is your only man.

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare -
A pint of plain is your only man.

In time of trouble and lousy strife,
You have still got a darlint plan,
You still can turn to a brighter life -
A pint of plain is your only man.

Flann O'Brien (Brian O'Nolan) 1949

Captain Hops -

I may be biased, but I have almost 500 referrences to beer in 5-7-5 haiku form at Beer Haiku Daily.

Of course if I can't nominate myself, I would have to say I have always been partial to Tom T. Hall who sang simply, "I like beer. (It makes me a jolly good fellow.)"

Alan -

Gary clearly expects self-nomination to be OK so it must be OK.

gr -

I have to say this gent has a lot of material....

KevBrews -

How about the Frank Zappa song "Titties and Beer"?

Hans -

"For I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my neck tie God knows where
And carried half way home or near
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer."

--AE Housman, A Shropshire Lad

When I first discovered the poem, I was in law school at UNB. The name of the building in which the school was housed was Ludlow Hall. I found it quite appropriate.

Alan -

When I was in undergrad at Kings College Halifax, I had a claim to fame being the President of the Haliburton Society - during its 100th year - which honour I shared in the records with some pretty famous folk. Anyway, I used my year to make something of the group, hold a "100th and a half" dance and increased readings beyond the traditional Christmas one, including one on the theme of "The Drink". I remember my pal Diane, a classmate of mine, was asked to read this poem as an opening. I think it was entitled "At An Inn":

<blockquote>by William Shenstone (1714-1763)<p>

To thee, fair freedom ! I retire
From flattery, cards, and dice, and din:
Nor art thou found in mansions higher
Than the low cott, or humble inn. <p>

'Tis here, with boundless pow'r, I reign;
And ev'ry health which I begin
Converts dull port to bright champaigne;
Such freedom crowns it, at an inn. <p>

Here, waiter ! take my sordid ore,
Which lacqueys else might hope to win;
It buys, what courts have not in store;
It buys me freedom, at an inn. <p>

And now once more I shape my way
Thro' rain or shine, thro' thick or thin,
Secure to meet, at close of day,
With kind reception, at an inn. <p>

Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome, at an inn. </blockquote>I recall now and excellent war journalist Patrick Graham (example of his work here) also read that night. He read a beat poem about an addicted artist with a repetative pattern to it...something like "Cocaine Katie"...but not the song by Poison.

Jacquelyn -

The best reference must be Tom Marioni's "The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is the Highest Form of Art." Since the early 70s, Marioni has gotten together with his friends every Wednesday night at his studio to drink beer, converse, and create the “highest form of art.” It’s sublime!

Henry Halff -

Anchor Brewing actually produces a small beer and their web site has a pretty good explanation of the concept.Here is what they have to say.

<blockquote cite="http://www.anchorbrewing.com/beers/smallbeer.htm">
The tradition of brewing two distinct beers from one mash has existed for thousands of years, and for centuries the term "small beer" was used in English to describe the lighter and weaker second beer. By association, the term came to mean something of little importance.

We make our Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale from the rich first runnings of an all-malt mash, and Anchor Small Beer is our attempt to duplicate the "small beers' of old by sparging that same mash: sprinkling warm water over the Old Foghorn mash after the first wort has run off, thereby creating a second, lighter brew from the resulting thinner wort. Technically, both beers are "ales" because they are made with top-fermenting yeast.

Paul -

Thanks for that Henry - great info!

Jacob Noblett -