The note in the fourth issue of The Vocal Magazine to the Compleat British Songster at Song 455 says it was written by the editor “and occasioned by his drinking some extraordinary fine Ale with his Friend J. Morris, Esq. brewed by Mr. Bower of Dorchester” which is fabulous as we now have the name and time of brewing of an eighteenth brewer of Dorchester beer. Attentive readers will recall how Dorchester’s ale was regarded by Joseph Coppinger in 1815:
This quality of ale is by many esteemed the best in England, when the materials are good, and the management judicious.
And, in another thirty years, we read in a document called The Ladies Companion And Literary Exposi 1844 in an article entitled “Summer Excursions from London” we read the the following exchange.
A lady, who had been my fellow passenger, turned to me as we drove up the avenue, and said, “ I suppose, of course, you mean to try the Dorchester ale, which is so celebrated.” “ Is it very fine ?” I asked.
“Dear me, have you never tasted Dorchester ale?” “No, madam, nor have I ever been in this town before.” She looked at me in some surprize, as my speech was not Irish nor Scotch. When I told her I came from the United States, she gazed upon me with the greatest curiosity…
So, now we know that good things were said of Dorchester’s brewing for around seven decades before and after the turn of the eighteenth century. It’s mentioned in the sometimes very suspect The Curiosities of Ale & Beer: An Entertaining History as being pale and as good or better than our old pals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the ales of Hull, Derby and Burton. Coppinger claims it had ginger and cinnamon in it. Is he to be trusted? Don’t know but it is clearly worth singing about. And here is what they sang:
In these troublesome times, when each mortal complains,
Some praise to the man is most certainly due.
Who, while he finds out a relief for their pains.
Supplies all his patients with good liquor too:
Then attend to my song, and I’ll make it appear,
A specifick for all is in Dorchester-beer.
Would our ministry drink it, instead of French wine.
The blessed effects we should quickly perceive
It would sharpen their senses, their spirits refine.
And make those— who now laugh at ‘their folly— to grieve.
No Frenchman would dare at our councils to sneer,
If the statesmen drank nothing but Dorchester-beer.
But should they (for statesmen are obstinate things)
Neglect to comply with the wish of my muse,
Nor regard a true Briton who honestly sings,
Our soldiers and sailors will never refuse:
And, believe me, from France we have little to fear.
Let these but have plenty of Dorchcester-beer.
E’en our brethren across the Atlantick, could they
But drink of this liquor, would soon be content:
And quicker by half, I will venture to say,
Our parliament might have fulfilled their intent.
If, instead of commissioners, tedious and dear.
They had sent out a cargo of Dorchester-beer.
Then let each worthy Briton, who wishes for peace
With America’s sons, fill his glass to the brim,
And drink — May our civil commotions soon cease.
And war with French perfidy instant begin!
May our friends never want, nor our foes e’er come near,
The pride of Old England, good Dorchester-beer.
There you go. Apparently, the entire American Revolution could have been solved had the right people had had the right beer at the right time. Britons licking their wounds? Or maybe the implications had not set in yet. The song might even pre-date publication by a few years. Things were still fairly fluid geopolitically so… beer and ales might as well be as fluid as well.
Sadly, unlike the song Nottingham Ale as published six years later, no tune is given. You will have to make up your own.