26 days of beer

A is for ale conner

As I’ve mentioned before, I own a copy of the Oxford Companion to Beer. While I have flicked through it and used it to check up on a specific fact, there are pages and pages I’ve never looked at. Oh, I tried to read the thing cover to cover, but didn’t even get past the As, because the damn thing is more than 800 pages long.
So to force myself to at least look at every page, I’ve decided to find one interesting item for every letter of the alphabet (which is easier said than done for the likes of Q and X) and post a blog entry on it here. That’s 26 posts over 26 days. Lets hope I can keep that pace up.

This is Sarah Connor, who is not to be confused with an ale conner.

This is Sarah Connor, who is not to be confused with an ale conner.

We start off things with the ale conner, perhaps one of the best jobs ever. From about 1300 in England, the courts would appoint some incredibly lucky person to the job of ale conner. What was so special about this job? Well, they got to go around their local area and sample beers in every single ale house, giving the acceptable ones his seal of approval. If an ale house’s beer was not so good, the ale conner could drag the naughty brewer before the courts.

There was an oft-cited tale – so oft-cited that even I had heard it – that the conner would test the quality of beer by pouring it on a seat and sitting on it while wearing leather pants. He relaxed this way for a short while and then, if the beer stuck him to the chair when he got up, the beer was deemed crap. Or whatever the old English for “crap” was. Probably “crappe”.

Anyway, seems that oft-cited tale isn’t true and the conner tested the beer by drinking it which is the way it should be.

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