On Beer (1)

For a quart of Ale is a dish for a king .

Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

He tells me … that I must drink now and then ale with my wine, and eat bread and butter and honey—and rye bread if I can endure it, it being loosening.

Samuel Pepys, Diary,17 November 1663

It was of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset; free from streakiness of taste; but, finally, rather heady. The masses worshipped it, the minor gentry loved it more than wine, and by the most illustrious county families it was not despised. Anybody brought up for being drunk and disorderly in the streets of its natal borough, had only to prove that he was a stranger to the place and its liquor to be honourably dismissed by the magistrates, as one overtaken in a fault that no man could guard against who entered the town unawares.

Thomas Hardy, The Trumpet-Major

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The Rat, meanwhile, was busy examining the label on one of the beer-bottles. ‘I perceive this to be Old Burton,’ he remarked approvingly. ‘SENSIBLE Mole! The very thing! Now we shall be able to mull some ale! Get the things ready, Mole, while I draw the corks.’

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

‘Only a pint at breakfast-time, and a pint and a half at eleven o’clock, and a quart or so at dinner. And then no more till the afternoon; and half a gallon at supper-time. No one can object to that.’

R. D. Blackmore, Lorna Doone

—Open two bottles of stout, Jack, said Mr O’Connor. —How can I? said the old man, when there’s no corkscrew? —Wait now, wait now! said Mr Henchy, getting up quickly. Did you ever see this little trick? He took two bottles from the table and, carrying them to the fire, put them on the hob. Then he sat down again by the fire and took another drink from his bottle. Mr Lyons sat on the edge of the table, pushed his hat towards the nape of his neck and began to swing his legs. —Which is my bottle? he asked. —This lad, said Mr Henchy. Mr Crofton sat down on a box and looked fixedly at the other bottle on the hob … In a few minutes an apologetic Pok! was heard as the cork flew out of Mr Lyons’ bottle. Mr Lyons jumped off the table, went to the fire, took his bottle and carried it back to the table.

James Joyce, ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’, Dubliners

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,

And drank his quart of beer:

His soul was resolute, and held

No hiding-place for fear;

He often said that he was glad

The hangman’s hands were near.

Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Abdul Kadir had tried to make things go, as he always did. He had emptied most of the bottled beer, a quart of stout, a flask of Beehive Brandy, half a bottle of Wincarnis and the remains of the whiskey into a kitchen pail. He had seasoned this foaming broth with red peppers and invited all to drink deep. This had been his sole contribution to the victualling of the party.

Anthony Burgess, Enemy in the Blanket (The Malayan Trilogy)

‘You must have seen great changes since you were a young man,’ said Winston tentatively. The old man’s pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents … ‘The beer was better,’ he said finally. ‘And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer – wallop we used to call it – was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course.’ ‘Which war was that?’ said Winston. ‘It’s all wars,’ said the old man vaguely. He took up his glass, and his shoulders straightened again. ‘’Ere’s wishing you the very best of ’ealth!’

George Orwell, 1984

… you can’t be a Real Country unless you have a beer and an airline—it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book

Morse poured himself a can of beer. ‘Champagne’s a lovely drink, but it makes you thirsty, doesn’t it?’

Colin Dexter, The Way Through The Woods

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