Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Beer Poems

Today is St. Columba’s Day. He’s a patron saint of poets, so I thought I’ll pull out some of my favorite poems with beer in them. I’m excluding limericks (since we’ve done them already) and haikus since Beer Haiku Daily pretty has them covered. So for my 18th Top 10 list I present the Top 10 beer poems, although, like before, the rankings are pretty much meaningless. These are just my ten favorite poems that are about beer or drinking. I sort of prefer number 1 to number 5 or 7, but not to the degree of some of the previous lists. They’re all winners. But, of course, I’d love to hear your choices. Anyway, here’s List #18:

Top 10 Beer Poems

10-25 Beer, by Charles Bukowski,
from Love is A Mad Dog From Hell (1920-1994)

I don’t know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I don’t know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women—
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
“what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!”

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows it’s bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horny cowboys.

well, there’s beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

09-25 The Tavern, by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273)

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

We have a huge barrel of beer, but no cups.
That’s fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.

They say there’s no future for us. They’re right.
Which is fine with us.

08-25 A Glass of Beer, by David O’Bruadair (1625-1698)

The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer;
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled ape, with the toughest jaw you will see
On virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master he’d give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.

07-25 Beer, by George Arnold (1834-1865)

With my beer
I sit,
While golden moments flit:

They pass
Unheeded by:
And, as they fly,
Being dry,
Sit, idly sipping here
My beer.

O, finer far
Than fame, or riches, are
The graceful smoke-wreathes of this cigar!
Should I
Weep, wail, or sigh?
What if luck has passed me by?
What if my hopes are dead,—
My pleasures fled?
Have I not still
My fill
Of right good cheer,—
Cigars and beer

Go, whining youth,
Go, weep and wail,
Sigh and grow pale,
   Weave melancholy rhymes
   On the old times,
Whose joys like shadowy ghosts appear,
But leave me to my beer!
   Gold is dross,—
   Love is loss,—
So, if I gulp my sorrows down,
Or see them drown
In foamy draughts of old nut-brown,
Then do wear the crown,
   Without the cross!

06-25 The Empty Bottle, by William Aytoun (1813-1865)

Ah, liberty! how like thou art
To this large bottle lying here,
Which yesterday from foreign mart,
Came filled with potent English beer!

A touch of steel — a hand — a gush —
A pop that sounded far and near —
A wild emotion — liquid rush —
And I had drunk that English beer!

And what remains? — An empty shell!
A lifeless form both sad and queer,
A temple where no god doth dwell —
The simple memory of beer!

05-25 Get Drunk!, by Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

Always be drunk.
That’s it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time’s horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On beer, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
“Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On beer, virtue, poetry, whatever!”

04-25 From The Hour Before Dawn, by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

A great lad with a beery face
Had tucked himself away beside
A ladle and a tub of beer,
And snored, no phantom by his look.
So with a laugh at his own fear
He crawled into that pleasant nook.
‘Night grows uneasy near the dawn
Till even I sleep light; but who
Has tired of his own company?
What one of Maeve’s nine brawling sons
Sick of his grave has wakened me?
But let him keep his grave for once
That I may find the sleep I have lost.’
What care I if you sleep or wake?
But I’ll have no man call me ghost.’
Say what you please, but from daybreak
I’ll sleep another century.’
And I will talk before I sleep
And drink before I talk.’
And he
Had dipped the wooden ladle deep
Into the sleeper’s tub of beer
Had not the sleeper started up.
Before you have dipped it in the beer
I dragged from Goban’s mountain-top
I’ll have assurance that you are able
To value beer; no half-legged fool
Shall dip his nose into my ladle
Merely for stumbling on this hole
In the bad hour before the dawn.’
Why beer is only beer.’

03-25 Lines on Ale (1848), by Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)

Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain.
Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away.
What care I how time advances;
I am drinking ale today.

02-25 Excerpted from Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff, poem LXII in
A Shropshire Lad (1896), by A.E. Housman (1859-1936)

Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

01-25 John Barleycorn, by Robert Burns (1834-1865)*
[This version is from 1782]

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.

His colour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy;
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!

* John Barleycorn exists in many forms, and a number of them I prefer over Burns’ version, but his is the only one I know of done by a true poet. The poem has also been turned into a song recorded by many, many artists, including Traffic, Steeleye Span and Jethro Tull, among others. I also have a children’s book of the story with wonderful woodcuts by artist Mary Azarian. You can read more about the history of this poem and story at my John Barleycorn page.


As usual, it was pretty hard to keep the list to ten, and a great many wonderful poems didn’t make the cut. Here’s a few more that almost made it:

From The Old Stone Cross, by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote.
A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat.
So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote.

Old Irish Tale, author unknown

Some Guinness was spilt on the barroom floor
When the pub was shut for the night.
When out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
And stood in the pale moonlight.

He lapped up the frothy foam from the floor
Then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long, you could hear the mouse roar,
“Bring on the goddamn cat!”

Doh, Re, Me, by Homer Simpson

Dough, the stuff that buys me beer.
Ray, the guy who brings me beer.
Me, the guy who drinks the beer.
Far, a long way to get beer.
So, I’ll have another beer.
La, I’ll have another beer.
Tea, no thanks I’m having beer.
That will bring us back to…
(reaching the crescendo of his toast,
Homer looks into his beer mug,
which is empty) …DOH!!!

Beers, a spoof of Joyce Kilmer’s Trees (1886-1918)

I THINK that I shall never hear
A poem lovely as a beer.
A brew that’s best straight from a tap
With golden hue and snowy cap;
The liquid bread I drink all day,
Until my memory melts away;
A beer that’s made with summer malt
Too little hops its only fault;
Upon whose brow the yeast has lain;
In water clear as falling rain.
Poems are made by fools I fear,
But only wort can make a beer.

Here’s the original poem:

I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Epic Poems

And way too long, but quite wonderful is the Finnish epic poem, The Kalevala and it’s hard not to mention the Hymn To Ninkasi, which really deserves to be included.

Send me your favorite beer poems by posting it or a link to it in a comment.

Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Beer Limericks

Today is National Limerick Day, which commemorates the birthday of Edward Lear. Lear wrote the Book of Nonsense, one of the earliest collections of limerick poetry and with it and later works he’s the person who probably did more to popularize the form than anyone else. Here’s one by Lear where he mentions beer.

There was an Old Man with an owl,
Who continued to bother and howl;
He sate on a rail,
And imbibed bitter ale,
Which refreshed that Old Man and his owl.

          — Edward Lear, Book of Nonsense #98

So for my 16th Top 10 list I present the Top 10 beer limericks, although the rankings are pretty much meaningless. These are just my ten favorite limericks that are about beer or drinking. I sort of prefer number 1 to number 5 or 7, but not to the degree of some of the previous lists. They’re all winners. But, of course, I’d love to hear your choices. Anyway, here’s List #16:

Top 10 Beer Limericks

A Girl Named Anheuser
There once was a girl named Anheuser,
who said that no man could surprise her.
But Pabst took a chance,
found the Schlitz in her pants,
and now she is sadder Budweiser.
A Salty Tear
One day my mouth felt so dry
And I thought I was about to die.
Then I saw the word “Beer”,
And one salty tear
Of happiness escaped from my eye.
Ye Olde English Ale
All hail to Ye Olde English Ale;
Ye porter, ye bitter, ye pale.
With flavours that linger,
Like old Bishop’s Finger,
They ain’t for the weak or the frail.
Deliciously Wonderful Beer by RGiskard
What is hoppy and brings us good cheer?
Not a froggy, I promise, my dear!
It’s brown, black and tan,
And can come in a can.
It’s deliciously wonderful beer!
Pity the Innkeeper’s Plight
Oh pity the innkeeper’s plight
When his customers, night after night,
Order only pale brew
And brown ale eschew —
For his dark is much worse than his lite.
You Get What You Pay For
It’s true what the say about ale,
When it has grown quite stale.
It smells like a skunk,
But still gets you drunk;
I guess that’s why this was on sale.
The Monks of Manuller
Some merry old monks of Manuller,
Found life was becoming much duller.
They brewed a fine ale
In a massive big pail,
And they found their lives were much fuller.
Slow Drowning
A brewery worker named Lee
Drowned in a vat of brewski.
I regretfully say
He’d not drowned right away;
He climbed out five time just to pee.
Hard Head Fred
A brewery worker named Fred
Had a barrel fall onto his head.
“Weren’t you hurt?” I did ask,
“Being hit by that cask?”
“I was lucky — ’twas light ale,” he said.
What Is It?
What is to our hearts so dear?
What makes the whole world cheer?
What is it we praise
In millions of ways —
Could it be a thing other than Beer?!


As usual, it was pretty hard to keep the list to ten, and a great many wonderful poems didn’t make the cut. Here’s a few more that almost made it:

I Drink Therefore
One day a real man of good cheer
Asked Descartes if he’d like a beer.
What the man got
Was ‘I think not';
As he watched Descartes disappear.

What made the Egyptians revere
Osiris and claim he was peer
To the gods of the land
Was that, unlike that other band,
He’d instructed them how to make beer.

The Beer Cow
There was an old farmer named Lear,
Who possessed a fine cow that gave beer.
Budweiser or Schlitz,
Could be tapped from her teats,
And pretzels came out of the rear.

Abbey Ale by Nitelaf
Abbey ale’s what we brew here, we Trappists.
(We’re in Belgium, for all of you mappists.)
Strong and rich, full in body;
As sweet as a toddy.
I’m glad that we’re brewers, not frappists.

No Socks
A frustrated brewer named Jacques,
Drowned himself in a barrel of Bock.
Grieved his friends, “Sad, it’s true,
Though this flavor is new,
But the next batch, let’s take off his socks.”

Jack Spratt’s Wife
There was a young girl, Marie Spratt,
At work one day, fell in a vat.
Before she was dragged out
She had drunk so much stout,
That her parts that were thin, became fat.

June 2nd by Tim Alborn
As from Monday, the second of June,
When the clock in my bedroom says noon,
I will stop drinking beer
For the rest of the year
(Or until I go near a saloon).

The Foam Ranger
A young lad named Armisted Auger,
Favored copious foam on his lager.
To the barmaid he said,
“Give me plenty of head,”
So she karated his schwagger.

Send me your favorite beer limericks by posting it in a comment.


Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.

Toasting the New Year 2009

Here at the Brookston Beer Bulletin we’re pausing today to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. 2008 was yet another interesting year and was rarely dull with plenty of drama. Nobody knows with any real certainty what 2009 will be like for the beer industry, but I’ll be here for my fifth straight year of ranting about it, er .. analyzing it, online. I hope you’ll join me on another year’s worth of adventure in the beer world.

Taken a few minutes ago in front of the Christmas tree; Alice, Porter and a tasty beer. What better way to start the new year. Sometime tonight raise a glass of a tasty libation as we toast you a Happy New Year with one of my favorites:

Observe, when Mother Earth is dry,
She drinks the droppings of the sky,
And then the dewey cordial gives
To every thirsty plant that lives.

The vapors which at evening sweep
Are beverage to the swelling deep,
And when the rosy sun appears,
He drinks the misty ocean’s tears.

The moon, too, quaffs her paly stream
Of lustre from the solar beam;
Then hence with all your sober thinking!
Since Nature’s holy law is drinking,
Mine’s the law of Nature here,
And pledge the Universe in beer.

            — Tom Moore, The Universal Toast


This is one my favorite out-takes. I have plenty more of the kids mugging for the camera and making some pretty funny faces. And here’s one final toast.

Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses;
Work’s the curse of the drinking classes.

            — Oscar Wilde

Welcome to 2009.

Here are more of my favorite toasts. Let me know if I’m missing one of your favorites.