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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: January ::
Re: Ale and Beer (Especially Falstaff's)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0052.  Friday, 21 January 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Dobson <U63495@UICVM>
        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 94 09:46:22 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0043 Re: Sack, Ale, and Stout with Some Questions
 
(2)     From:   Michael Best <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 94 08:43:10 PST
        Subj:   Ale (Big or Small), Beer, Sack . . .
 
(3)     From:   William Kemp <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 94 22:02:32 EST
        Subj:   Falstaff beer
 
(4)     From:   Leo Daugherty <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Jan 1994 03:17:07 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Sack, etc.
 
(5)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Friday, January 21, 1994
        Subj:   Falstaff Beer
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Dobson <U63495@UICVM>
Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 94 09:46:22 CST
Subject: 5.0043 Re: Sack, Ale, and Stout with Some Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0043 Re: Sack, Ale, and Stout with Some Questions
 
re: Beer and Shakespeare
 
England, thank God, is a country which doesn't *need* to import beer, and I
know of no references to beer imports before the glorious rise of the Dublin
stout industry in the mid 18th century. The beer which Falstaff *could* have
ordered at the Boar's Head was 'brown bastard', a rich ale, as distinct from
the 'small beer' which most households brewed themselves in part as a means of
disinfecting and re-flavouring the water. It was very low in alcohol, pallid,
and insipid in flavour, a perfectly acceptable soft drink for children -- the
Renaissance equivalent of Budweiser.
 
Mead, incidentally, is still commercially available in Britain, and as long
as you have confidence in your dentist and don't mind the idea of alcoholic
Lucozade isn't bad.
 
The other crucial connection between Shakespeare and beer is the posthumous
patronage of Flowers' brewery of Stratford, which funded the building of the
original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and remains a patron of the RSC. Flowers'
bitter is now distributed nationally by one of the big conglomerates -- I think
Whitbread -- and continues to bear a portrait of the Bard on its beermats.
Merrie Englande at L1.50 a pint (or am I lagging behind inflation?).  On
Shakespeare's involvement in the modern drink-marketing business, see Graham
Holderness and Bryan Loughrey's piece 'Shakespearean Features' (which
reproduces both the Flowers' trademark and the version of the Chandos portrait
used on Tesco dry sherry bottles -- at least Tesco know their sack!), published
in Jean Marsden's anthology *The Appropriation of Shakespeare* (1991). [not to
be confused, incidentally, with Brian Vickers' recent rewrite of the Dunciad,
which adopted a similar title].
 
                               Michael Dobson
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Best <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 94 08:43:10 PST
Subject:        Ale (Big or Small), Beer, Sack . . .
 
Gervase Maarkham's *The English Housewife* (1516) lists usable recipes
for March ale (the strongest), ale, small ale (made from the second
infusion of the malt) and that newcomer beer (with its trendy new
additive hops). It devotes a whole chapter to the care (read
adulteration) of wines, including sack. My edition of Markham (1986)
is still available from McGill-Queens Press.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Kemp <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 94 22:02:32 EST
Subject:        Falstaff beer
 
Edward Bonahue mentions seeing Falstaff beer in "My Own Private Idaho," and
William Godshalk testifies to having drunk it. He also recalls that the picture
on the can resembled Santa Claus.
 
It did. Falstaff was a low-priced beer widely available (at least in the South)
during my youth (the 50's and 60's). The bearded guy on the can did indeed look
a lot like Santa.
 
Was the stuff in "My Own Private Idaho" authentic or a directorial fabrication?
There's no Falstaff beer in Virginia. Is it still around in other parts of the
country?
 
I cannot believe I am writing this note. A week of cancelled classes and
staying inside must have driven me batty.
 
Bill Kemp
Mary Washington College
Fredericksburg, Va.

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Leo Daugherty <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Jan 1994 03:17:07 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Sack, etc.
 
There used to be a terrific cheap beer called Falstaff.  It was sold
in Kentucky and Ohio (at least), had a picture of Fat Jack on the label,
amd was absolutely delicious to the unschooled fratrat palate.  Presuming
we've not run too far off the rails or otherwise afield here -- this is,
after all, a "spinoff" --, does anybody know if it's still around?
 
                                             Leo Daugherty
                                             The Evergreen State College
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Friday, January 21, 1994
Subject:        Falstaff Beer
 
As a homebrewer, or at least I was before I returned to changing diapers
four months ago, I have purchased "overrun" bottle caps.  One such cap,
which tops the last of a June 1992 Brown Ale, is labeled "88 Falstaff
Light."  I had always assumed that "overrun" implied that the caps were
labeled but the company went out of business, and I have, thus, assumed,
rightly or wrongly, that Falstaff beers were potables of the past.
 

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