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16839.  Tue Mar 29, 2005 7:20 am Reply with quote

Q: What do you call a man who spends all day sitting in a puddle of ale?

“For centuries, the quality of beer was judged by a man known as the ale conner, an officer appointed by the Crown to ensure that the quality of beer being sold commercially was of an acceptable standard. The ale conner was easily recognizable: he’d be the bloke striding into the pub in his leather trousers, the most important part of his attire. This wasn't some weird fetish - the trousers were vital to judging the quality of the beer. A small amount of beer would be poured onto a bench. The ale conner would then sit in this puddle for half an hour, trying his best to look dignified and important. When he rose, if he got a clean break from the bench he would pronounce the ale fit to drink. However, if his leather keks stuck to the bench this meant there was still residual sugar in the brew and, having not yet finished fermenting, it was unfit to drink.”

Shakespeare’s dad was appointed ale conner for Stratford in 1557.

- - “Man walks into a pub: a sociable history of beer” by Pete Brown (Macmillan, 2003).

16870.  Tue Mar 29, 2005 4:25 pm Reply with quote

Fabulous. I'm going to link to this from the "Confidence Tricks" thread - it isn't connected, but it'll give us a way to sneak it in.

16886.  Wed Mar 30, 2005 4:46 am Reply with quote

Some excellent extra details at

including that the Germans were pro-sticky beer (pah! no comment! we're all friends now etc), and that "the lord mayor of London is still required to don the ale-conner's uniform every 10 years to ritually inspect a selected local pub. "

There *must* be a pic of this, somewhere ...

316196.  Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:01 pm Reply with quote

Sadly, this is all rubbish - ale conners never sat in sticky puddles of beer, there is no evidence for it whatsoever, it's a made-up "tradition" first found in the 20th century. See here for a complete debunking.

316232.  Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:37 pm Reply with quote

Yes, we thought it sounded dodgy, so we abandoned it. Thanks for the link.


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