Beer Birthday: Roger Protz

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Today is the 77th birthday of British beer writer Roger Protz. Roger, of course, if one of Britain’s best-known beer writers, having authored over twenty books on the subject, including being the editor of CAMRA’s Good beer Guide for two decades. He’s also been very active in CAMRA through much of their history. Although our paths cross only occasionally, Roger’s great to share a pint with, and we apparently love a lot of the same British television shows, something I discovered after many beers at Het Anker in Belgium a few years ago. Join me in wishing Roger a very happy birthday.

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Roger with Melissa Cole at the Great British Beer Festival in 2009.

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Roger with Austrian beer writer Conrad Seidl in Belgium during a press junket there in 2013.

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Roger with a bottle of Pliny the Elder I brought with me to England for him in 2008.

Historic Beer Birthday: Samuel Whitbread II

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Today is the birthday of Samuel Whitbread II (January 18, 1764-July 6, 1815). Despite being the son of Whitbread Brewery founder Samuel Whitbread, he is most remember for being a politician. According to Wikipedia:

Whitbread was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire, the son of the brewer Samuel Whitbread. He was educated at Eton College, Christ Church, Oxford and St John’s College, Cambridge, after which he embarked on a European ‘Grand Tour’, visiting Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Prussia, France and Italy. He returned to England in May 1786 and joined his father’s successful brewing business.

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“Samuel Whitbread Esqr. M.P.” by Samuel William Reynolds after John Opie, 1804. This is the painting’s description. “A fine full length, seated portrait of the brewer, philanthropist and Whig politician Samuel Whitbread (1758-1815). He sits at his desk, wearing a dark suit and hessian boots, before an open window, his hand resting on a piece of paper. In the background is a draped curtain and on the floor is a pile of books.”

For over two decades he was a Member of Parliament:

Whitbread was elected Member of Parliament for Bedford in 1790, a post he held for twenty-three years. Whitbread was a reformer — a champion of religious and civil rights, for the abolition of slavery, and a proponent of a national education system. He was a close friend and colleague of Charles James Fox. After Fox’s death, Whitbread took over the leadership of the Whigs, and in 1805 led the campaign to have Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, removed from office.

Whitbread admired Napoleon and his reforms in France and Europe. He hoped that many of Napoleon’s reforms would be implemented in Britain. Throughout the Peninsular War he played down French defeats convinced that sooner or later Napoleon would triumph, and he did all he could to bring about a withdrawal of Britain from the continent. When Napoleon abdicated in 1814 he was devastated. Whitbread began to suffer from depression, and on the morning of 6 July 1815, he committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.

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This portrait of Whitbread was done in 1806.

Bedfordshire Genealogy and History has a fuller biography of Samuel Whitbread 2nd:

SamuelWhitbread2

Samuel Whitbread, the son of the brewer Samuel Whitbread, and Harriet Hayton, was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire in 1758. His mother died when he was a child and his father took great care over his only son. When Samuel was sent to Eton he was accompanied by his own private tutor. Samuel continued his education at Christ Church, Oxford and St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he met his lifelong friend, Charles Grey.

After university Samuel Whitbread sent his son on a tour of Europe, under the guidance of the historian, William Coxe. This included visits to Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Prussia, France and Italy. When Samuel returned in May 1786, he joined his father running the extremely successful family brewing business.

In 1789 Samuel Whitbread married Elizabeth Grey, the sister of Charles Grey. The two men were deeply interested in politics. Grey was already MP for Northumberland and in 1790 Whitbread was elected MP for Bedford. In the House of Commons, Whitbread and Grey became followers of Charles Fox, the leader of the Radical Whigs.

Whitbread soon emerged in Parliament as a powerful critic of the Tory Prime Minister, William Pitt. A passionate supporter of reform, Whitbread argued for an extension of religious and civil rights, an end to the slave-trade, and the establishment of a national education system.

In April 1792, Whitbread joined with a group of pro-reform Whigs to form the Friends of the People. Three peers (Lord Porchester, Lord Lauderdale and Lord Buchan) and twenty-eight Whig MPs joined the group. Other leading members included Charles Grey, Richard Sheridan, Major John Cartwright, Lord John Russell,George Tierney, and Thomas Erskine. The main objective of the the society was to obtain “a more equal representation of the people in Parliament” and “to secure to the people a more frequent exercise of their right of electing their representatives”. Charles Fox was opposed to the formation of this group as he feared it would lead to a split the Whig Party.

On 30th April 1792, Charles Grey introduced a petition in favour of constitutional reform. He argued that the reform of the parliamentary system would remove public complaints and “restore the tranquillity of the nation”. He also stressed that the Friends of the People would not become involved in any activities that would “promote public disturbances”. Although Charles Fox had refused to join the Friends of the People, in the debate that followed, he supported Grey’s proposals. When the vote was taken, Grey’s proposals were defeated by 256 to 91 votes.

In 1793 Samuel Whitbread toured the country making speeches on the need for parliamentary reform. He encouraged people to sign petitions at his meetings and when he returned to London they were presented to Parliament. Whitbread also campaigned on behalf of agricultural labourers. In the economic depression of 1795, Whitbread advocated the payment of higher wages. When Whitbread introduced his minimum wage bill to the House of Commons in December 1795 it was opposed by William Pitt and his Tory government and was easily defeated.

Whitbread was a strong supporter of a negotiated peace with France and supported Fox’s calls to send a government minister to Paris. Whitbread argued for Catholic Emancipation and opposed the act for the suppression of rebellion in Ireland. His friend, Samuel Romilly, said that Whitbread was “the promoter of every liberal scheme for improving the condition of mankind, the zealous advocate of the oppressed, and the undaunted opposer of every species of corruption and ill-administration.”

In 1807 Samuel Whitbread proposed a new Poor Law. His scheme not only involved an increase in the financial help given to the poor, but the establishment of a free educational system. Whitbread proposed that every child between the ages of seven and fourteen who was unable to pay, should receive two years’ free education. The measure was seen as too radical and was easily defeated in the House of Commons.

Whitbread refused to be disillusioned by his constant defeats and during the next few years he made more speeches in the House of Commons than any other member. Sometimes his attacks on George III and his ministers were considered to be too harsh, even by his closest political friends.

Unable to persuade Parliament to accept his ideas, Whitbread used his considerable fortune (his father, Samuel Whitbread had died in 1796) to support good causes. Whitbread gave generous financial help to establish schools for the poor. An advocate of the monitorial system developed by Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster, he helped fund the Royal Lancasterian Society that had the objective of establishing schools that were not controlled by the Church of England.

When the Whigs gained power in 1806, Whitbread expected the Prime Minister, Lord Grenville, to offer him a place in his government. He was deeply disappointed when this did not happen. Some claimed it was because Whitbread was too radical. Others suggested it was due to snobbery and the aristocrats in the party disapproved of a tradesman entering the cabinet.

After this rejection, Whitbread consoled himself with his involvement in the Drury Lane Theatre. In 1809 the theatre was destroyed by fire. Already over £500,000 in debt, the theatre was in danger of going out of business. Whitbread became chairman of the committee set up to rebuild the theatre. With the help of his political friends, Whitbread managed to raise the necessary funds and the Drury Lane Theatre was reopened on 10th October, 1812.

In 1815 Whitbread began to suffer from depression. Over the years he had been upset by the way he was portrayed by the political cartoonists such as, James Gillray and George Cruikshank. He also began to worry about the brewery business and the way he was treated in the House of Commons. After one debate in June he told his wife: “They are hissing me. I am become an object of universal abhorrence.” On the morning of 6th June 1815, Samuel Whitbread committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.

And if that’s not enough, the “Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61″ also includes a biography and Encyclopedia.com has an overview of the company, as does AIM25.

Brewer-and-Thistle

This is a political cartoon featuring Samuel Whitbread entitled “The Brewer and the Thistle.” It was drawn by James Sayers, and published by Hannah Humphrey, June 26, 1805. The people in the cartoon include Charles James Fox (1749-1806), James Maitland Lauderdale (1759-1839), William Wilberforce (1759-1833), Sir Home Riggs Popham (1762-1820), Samuel Whitbread (1758-1815) and Henry Dundas Melville (1742-1811). While I’m sure you need to be a historian specializing in this period of British history, the Royal Collection Trust gives this description. “Whitbeard in costume of beer casks, attacks thistle with Melville’s head. (r) alehouse; Fox and Launderdale (in tartan) laugh. Wilberforce leans out of window dressed as Puritan. (l) blunderbuss fired at sign of St.Vicent.”

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Finally, here’s the Whitbread Brewery on Chiswell Street in London as it appeared around 1900.

Tolkien’s ” The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late”

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Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien, the English author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But he was also a poet, which shouldn’t be a big surprise to fans since most of his works include pomes and songs as a part of his stories.

Tolkien was also a fan of British beer. One of the 30 Facts about J.R.R. Tolkien mentions his love of beer:

As a young student at Exeter college, Oxford University, he spent his first few years often getting into debt trying to keep up with richer students, who had more disposable income. Tolkien admits he had a great love of beer and talking into the early hours of the morning.

Author Eric San Juan also writes about J.R.R. Tolkien, Hobbits, and BEER. After detailing the ways in which beer influenced his life and work, he concludes that “yes, J.R.R. Tolkien enjoyed his beer, and this is reflected in his life’s work. He enjoyed quiet times and good conversation and a great pint. And who doesn’t?”

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In 1968 during a BBC interview, part of a series entitled “In Their Own Words British Authors,” Tolkien quips. “I’m very fond of beer.” In fact, the interview is described as “John Izzard meets with JRR Tolkien at his home, walking with him through the Oxford locations that he loves while hearing the author’s own views about his wildly successful high-fantasy novels. Tolkien shares his love of nature and beer and his admiration for ‘trenchermen’ in this genial and affectionate programme.”

Earlier today, I tweeted a Tolkien quote, an excerpt from one of his poems. But while I’d collected the quote years ago, in checking it for accuracy, I encountered some confusion about the poem. It comes from a poem entitled “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late” from 1923 but some misattributed it to a later one, called “The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon,” which also appeared with the latter one in a collection published under the title “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil,” published in 1962.

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late also appeared in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the Inn at Bree (“At the Sign of the Prancing Pony”, The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter 9) Frodo jumps on a table and recites “a ridiculous song” invented by Bilbo. “Here it is in full,” said Tolkien. “Only a few words of it are now, as a rule, remembered.”

There follows the tale, in thirteen ballad-like five-line stanzas, introducing each element in turn: “the Man in the Moon” himself, the ostler’s “tipsy cat/ that plays a five-stringed fiddle”, the little dog, the “hornéd cow” and the silver dishes and spoons.

Note that the cow is able to jump over the Moon with ease because the Man in the Moon has temporarily brought it down to Earth.

I read all of the books when I was younger — much younger — and I confess I didn’t recall the poem at all. Even when I found the quote, it was an excerpt. So today I figured I’d check out the full poem. The first one is great, filled with cool allusions, references to nursery rhymes, excellent wordplay and fun beeriness. The second doesn’t mention beer at all, only wine and moonshine, but it still interesting, especially as it’s considered a companion poem to the other. I’ve put both of them down below, with illustrations by British artist Alan Lee. Read the first one at least, it’s great — really great — but the second is nice, as well.

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The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there’s good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there’s a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
‘The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master’s been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun’ll be rising soon!’

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
‘It’s after three!’ he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

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The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon

The Man in the Moon had silver shoon,
It and his beard was of silver thread;
With opals crowned and pearls all bound
about his girdlestead,
In his mantle grey he walked one day
across a shining floor,
And with crystal key in secrecy
he opened an ivory door.

On a filigree stair of glimmering hair
then lightly down he went,
And merry was he at last to be free
on a mad adventure bent.
In diamonds white he had lost delight;
he was tired of his minaret
Of tall moonstone that towered alone
on a lunar mountain set.

Hĺ would dare any peril for ruby and beryl
to broider his pale attire,
For new diadems of lustrous gems,
emerald and sapphire.
So was lonely too with nothing to do
but stare at the world of gold
And heark to the hum that would distantly come
as gaily round it rolled.

At plenilune in his argent moon
in his heart he longed for Fire:
fot the limpid lights of wan selenites;
for red was his desire,

For crimson and rose and ember-glows,
for flame with burning tongue,
For the scarlet skies in a swift sunrise
when a stormy day is young.

He’d have seas of blues, and the living hues
of forest green and fen;
And he yearned for the mirth of the populous earth
and the sanguine blood of men.
He coveted song, and laughter long,
and viands hot, and wine,
Eating pearly cakes of light snowflakes
and drinking thin moonshine.

He twinkled his feet, as he thought of the meat,
of pepper, and punch galore;
And he tripped unaware on his slanting stair,
and like a meteor,
A star in flight, ere Yule one night
flickering down he fell
From his laddery path to a foaming bath
in the windy Bay of Bel.

He began to think, lest he melt and sink,
what in the moon to do,
When a fisherman’s boat found him far afloat
to the amazement of the crew,
Caught in their net all shimmering wet
in a phosphorescent sheen
Of bluey whites and opal lights
and delicate liquid green.

Against his wish with the morning fish
they packed him back to land:
‘You had best get a bed in an inn’, they said;
‘the town is near at hand’.
Only the knell of one slow bell
high in the Seaward Tower
Announced the news of his moonsick cruise.

Not a hearth was laid, not a breakfast made,
and dawn was cold and damp.
There were ashes for fire, and for grass the mire,
for the sun a smoking lamp
In a dim back-street. Not a man did he meet,
no voice was raised in song;
There were snores instead, for all folk were abed
and still would slumber long.

He knocked as he passed on doors locked fast,
and called and cried in vain,
Till he came to an inn that had light within,
and tapped at a window-pane.
A drowsy cook gave a surly look,
and ‘What do you want?’ said he.
‘I want fire and gold and songs of old
and red wine flowing free!’

‘You won’t get them here’, said the cook with a leer,
‘but you may come inside.
Silver I lack and silk to my back—
maybe I’ll let you bide’.
A silver gift the latch to lift,
a pearl to pass the door;
For a seat by the cook in the ingle-nook
it cost him twenty more.

For hunger or drouth naught passed his mouth
till he gave both crown and cloak;
And all that he got, in an earthen pot
broken and black with smoke,
Was porridge cold and two days old
to eat with a wooden spoon.
For puddings of Yule with plums, poor fool,
he arrived so much too sooo:
An unwary guest on a lunatic quest
from the Mountains of the Moon.

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ABI Buys London’s Camden Town Brewery

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Anheuser-Busch InBev announced this morning that they were buying British brewer Camden Town Brewery, located in London. Despite having recently raised over £2.75 million through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube (nearly doubling their £1.5 million target), which was purported to fund a second London brewery, Camden Town is quoted in the Guardian that “the businesses needed a major investor to fund the construction of a second brewery that will create 30 jobs.”

Jasper Cuppaidge, who founded the brewery just five years ago, also posted a short statement on their website:

The ‘craft’ brewing movement has seen incredible growth driven by innovation, quality and daring. Camden Town Brewery has been at the forefront of this revolution. The success and reputation we have built has been nothing short of incredible. That has been thanks to all of you and the great beers we’ve brewed.

To stay at the forefront of this movement and secure our future success, we have to build a bigger brewery, employ more people and gain access to an international distribution network.

We can’t do this on our own. That’s why I’m proud to say I’ve signed a deal with AB InBev.

This partnership is going to help us deliver our plans to grow. With AB InBev’s support we will expand our operations, create more jobs in London and continue to brew our great beer and get it to more drinkers. Read more here.

We are really excited about taking this opportunity to turn Camden, and the quality it stands for, from being an outstanding London brewer, to being a world famous one. We hope you are too.

If you’re one of our shareholders, we’ll be in contact soon with more details about what the news means for you. We’ll also be updating the investor site shortly with answers to questions you may have.

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The terms of the deal, and the price, were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close quickly, by January 7. Camden Town also posted a more traditional press release:

Camden Town Brewery today announced that it is partnering with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) to pave the way for further growth and expansion. The partnership will enable Camden Town Brewery to expand its operations, bringing more of its popular canned, bottled and kegged beer to more people. The deal will see AB InBev acquire Camden Town Brewery.

Founded by Jasper Cuppaidge, the owner of The Horseshoe pub in Hampstead, Camden Town Brewery started full production in 2010. From an original staff of three people, it now employs a team of 95 and has sold 12 million pints in 2015. Their beers are available in over 1000 pubs, bars, restaurants and retailers around the UK, as well as further afield in Sweden, Australia and Japan.

The deal follows a successful bid by Camden Town Brewery to raise capital via crowd funding and will support the company’s plan to build a second brewery in London, employing 30 more people and meeting growing demand for its products. The partnership will enable Camden Town Brewery to brew more of its own distinctive beers and continue to innovate, while maintaining its focus on quality.

Jasper Cuppaidge said: “Our growth has been phenomenal. To keep up with the demand for our distinctive beers we’ve had to look at expanding our brewing capacity and team. AB InBev is going to be our strategic partner, helping us maintain the character and quality of our beers, while giving us access to the investment we need to drive Camden to being ever more successful at home and abroad.

“Opportunities like this come rarely. We believe we must have the ambition to grab this opportunity and turn Camden Town Brewery, and the quality it stands for, from being an outstanding London brewer to being a world famous one.”

Iain Newell, European Director of Specialities & Craft, AB InBev, said: “We have a passion for great beer. Camden Town is a creative business with a great range of brands that will complement our existing portfolio. We will support their ambitious plans for the future, using our expertise and global distribution network to help them get their great beer to more people.”

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Beer In Ads #1761: Father William Wishes You A Merry Xmas —


Wednesday’s holiday ad is for William Younger’s Scotch Ale, from 1931. Father William I understand, but what the hell is he riding? It looks like an ostrich made of a Christmas ornament with Christmas crackers for legs and a tail of either mistletoe or a sprig of pine tree. The whatever it is, the creature’s wearing a sort of dunce cap with a decorative ball of yarn on top. And lastly, what is on the beast’s neck? Perhaps this is what you see if drink too much Scotch Ale.

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I Know What I Love

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Although I was blissfully ignorant of CAMRA in its earliest days — drinking American beer in Pennsylvania while in junior high and high school — my understanding is that it was not always as popular as it later became. And it certainly wasn’t universally beloved by many breweries, since they were moving toward keg beer which was much cheaper to produce and away from cask-conditioned beer, or real ale. It took a small dedicated group to convince brewers, and many ambivalent consumers, that real ale was worth preserving so British beer didn’t end up tasting like America of the 1970s. But there were critics of CAMRA almost from the get go, as recently detailed in a post by Boak & Bailey entitled A Brief History of CAMRA Bashing.

I didn’t follow all of Boak & Bailey’s thread on Twitter this morning, apart from finding part of a script from what they believed was a “c.1978 anti-‘real ale’ propaganda film starring Bernard Cribbins.” They were fishing to see if anybody might have more information about the movie.

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It turned out the film was from 1973, and a follower (thanks Cliff) found the actual film online, courtesy of the East Anglican Film Archive . The film is titled “I Know What I Love,” which is curiously very close to the title of a song from the Genesis album Selling England By the Pound, also released in 1973. That was “I Know What I Like,” but still, it was my first thought since I was a big fan of the band back then.

It’s a fairly goofy film, but also very interesting the way beer and brewing is presented. Bernard Cribbins, a reasonably well-known British character actor plays all of the major parts, explaining how beer is made. If you watch a lot of British TV or films, you’ve probably seen him. He’s made appearances in “The Avengers,” “Fawlty Towers,” “Doctor Who” and “Coronation Street,” and was in the films “The Railway Children,” “Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River,” the 1967 Bond film “Casino Royale” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy.”

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Here’s the description from the film’s webpage at the EAFA:

Presented by The Brewers’ Society and featuring Bernard Cribbins in multiple roles, the documentary explains the process of brewing beer, from the pasture to the pint.

After ordering a pint at his local and taking a sip, the actor Bernard Cribbins sets out to explain the brewing process, with a little help from some of his ‘relatives’ in the industry, all played by Cribbins himself. One ‘cousin’ explains the malting process, where barley is germinated and malted, whilst another talks about hops, which contribute to the flavour of beer. His ‘uncle’, who works in a traditional brewery, explains the process, from the spurging of barley in mush tuns to the addition of hops, followed by yeast to aid fermentation, before the beer is conditioned and siphoned into casks.

Brewing on an industrial scale is also explained by Cribbins, with the help of one ‘relative’ who grows large amounts of barley, and a ‘distant relative’ who works as a technician at a large brewer. The film concludes with a glimpse at pub life, with a variety of environments catering for a range of tastes, but linked together by one thing: beer. With the process explained, Cribbins heads back to the bar for another pint, which is pulled by the governor, his ‘father’.

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It was created by the Rank Short Films Group and sponsored by the Brewers’ Society. The director was James Allen from a script by Michael Barnes and the only actor credited is Bernard Cribbins. It doesn’t strike me as particularly anti-real ale, but maybe there’s some nuance I’m missing. They certainly try to allay fears that stainless steel, and modern brewing methods didn’t change the beer they produced. The humor seems a little forced, and not particularly witty, more mildly amusing than funny.

Unfortunately, the archive doesn’t allow their films to be embedded but you can go to their website and watch it online, which I highly recommend. It runs around seventeen minutes, and is certainly an interesting look at brewing at a particular time in recent history.

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The Comforts Of Life

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Here’s an interesting piece of history I came across this morning. It’s a hand-colored etching created around 1826, possibly by Henry Heath. This one is plate 3 from a set of 4, all of which apparently relate to alcohol and its effects. It’s believed to have been published by William Cole of 10 Newgate Street in London. An original of the print is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. It’s certainly an interesting caricature of life in the early 19th century.

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According to the text at the bottom of the print, each of the gentlemen are drinking the following. Double-X / Half & Half / Porter / Swipes (Which appears to be beer that is weak, thin, watery or even spoiled).

Watney’s Happy Families

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The other night Boak & Bailey tweeted a photo of a UK eBay listing for a card game published in the 1930s by Watney Combe Reid & Co. LTD, brewers of Watney’s Red Barrel.

One of the many things I’m obsessed with is games. Since I was a kid, I’ve played them, collected them, and even created them. It’s just one more thing to add to the ever-growing list of things about which I’m particularly geeky. So I was already familiar with the card game Happy Families, which is a fairly simple game, and is somewhat similar to “Go Fish.” But I had no idea that a brewery had made their own version of the game.

watneys-happy-families-box watneys-happy-families-back

Based on the box, it was obviously a giveaway to advertise the Watney’s brand. Intrigued, I would have bought it on the spot, except that, as Boak & Bailey noted, the “Buy It Now” price was a hefty £64.95, or about $100. Beer writing, unfortunately, doesn’t pay well enough to indulge all of my whims. Still, I wanted to know more about the game, and set out to see what I could find.

It was apparently created in England in 1851, by John Jaques II, who was also responsible for inventing “Snakes and Ladders,” “Tiddlywinks,” “Ludo” and the pub favorite “Shove Ha’penny.” It often uses a custom deck of 32 cards, although the game can be played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Cartamundi has the rules online. In the Watney’s version, the rules are printed on the back of the cardboard box:

watneys-happy-families-4

In the Watney’s version, the families are the Barrels, the Cheerilads, the Combes, the Hops, the Malts, the Reids, the Stouts, and the Watneys. According to The World of Playing Cards:

Although the 1920s was a decade of optimism after the Great War, the Great Depression made the 1930s a difficult time. In Britain unemployment was widespread. As we see from these images, the woman was the homemaker and had a hairdo, and the man worked. The generation of children who grew up in the 1930s would go on to fight in World War II. They had their share of hardships and built strong values of hard work.

Below are the 32 cards from deck:

watneys-happy-families

For two of them, they apparently didn’t have a finished card, so here’s those cards taken from the eBay listing photos.

Mrs-Reid Miss-Watney

Hopefully, I can find a less expensive deck of these cards. Great, another item to add to my Wishlist.

Beer In Ads #1665: Welcome To The Inns Of Britain


Tuesday’s ad is from the English brewer’s “Beer is Best” campaign, from 1951. The campaign began in 1933, and ran for 30 years, and this one shows an idyllic country pub — The Axe and Compass — with a conspicuous church spire behind it. It almost appears that they’re trying to either suggest the pub as church or to associate the two as central to British life (both claims I agree with, BTW). But it looks so perfect one assumes it has to be a fictional, stylized version meant to invoke the romance of the country pub.

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But not so fast. The Axe and Compass is an actual country inn located in Hemingford Abbots, 3 miles from St Ives, 6 miles from Huntingdon, and 12 miles from Cambridge. According to their website, the pub dates “back to the 15th century.”

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But perhaps the artist did take a few liberties with perspective. That church spire that looms so large in the ad’s illustration appears much less imposing in the photograph from the pub’s website. And even more revealing, placing the inn at roughly the same angle as the drawing using Google Maps Street View, you can barely make out just the tip of the spire above the edge of the end of the pub’s roof past the back chimney. You have to go down Church Lane to see the church, and it doesn’t look nearly as large as it does in the illustration. Still, it’s an awesome image and I suspect it may have been one in a series, which would be even cooler. I know I want to go there now, and if I’m ever in the area, I’d definitely try to have a pint of Timothy Taylor there.

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