I Was Looking For The Moon Under Water Mug…

murmug1But I found this which will do for now.

In George Orwell’s 1949 essay The Moon Under Water – mentioned here, here and here – we are taken perhaps though the looking glass to an idyllic perfect pub of post-war Britain. It is a gorgeous physical essay that sets out the elements of Orwell’s dream establishment including even the mugs:

The special pleasure of this lunch is that you can have draught stout with it. I doubt whether as many as 10 per cent of London pubs serve draught stout, but the Moon Under Water is one of them. It is a soft, creamy sort of stout, and it goes better in a pewter pot. They are particular about their drinking vessels at the Moon Under Water, and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass. Apart from glass and pewter mugs, they have some of those pleasant strawberry-pink china ones which are now seldom seen in London. China mugs went out about 30 years ago, because most people like their drink to be transparent, but in my opinion beer tastes better out of china.

There is also a small surprise of a garden… and stamps. I have been looking for a strawberry-pink china mug for a while now but have made do with this in the interim. It is a Wedgewood 1940s sage green tankard designed by Keith Murray. I got it on eBay for about $53 Canadian which is a lot but it is also not as I could likely put it on eBay tomorrow and get about $53 Canadian… which is what I tell people about my soccer jersey collection of about eight years ago that sits in boxes waiting for another five for the teens to discover it. I like the way the handle looks a bit like antler. Not sure what beer I will have from it. Looks nice where it is.

A Treasure Trove of Tiny Teutonic Glassware

I am a lucky man. I was almost into a nap after a failed morning of showshoeing followed by some throwing around of embarrassingly light weights when the family poured back into the house with many purchases – including a collection of tiny German beer glasses bought at a charity second hand shop. Most are 200 ml with one 300 ml from Franz of Rastatt that sits before me filled with Bernardus Abt 12. They are lovely things. The stemmed Dortmunder Union glass is particularly sweet. Each one cost only around 99 cents and apparently there are more, though the rest suffer from chips and scratches.

The funny thing is, of course, that I am not all that keen on German beers as a general thing. Yet whenever I get these tiny glasses with their heavily embossed brightly painted branding it’s like your first glimpse of your stuffed socking on Christmas Day. There is a delicacy about them. The glass is thin. The art work is thoughtful, larded with crests and Gothic script. And then there is this thing that I am going to call “hand feel” – the pleasure of the physical design. There is that one with the stem but others are slightly scalloped on the vertical. The rest give a subtle nod to the needs of the hand whether as a slender cylinder or a gentle widening then tapering that just fits.

Clearly someone packed it in. These could have been consigned by an executor or an abandoned spouse. The glass I use now may have been once untouchable, sitting in an cabinet behind glass. Mine now. I do as I wish with them.

CAMNA: The Campaign For Nipped Ales

ofa1So far I have created, with a certain underwhelming success, The Pub Game Project to note the things people like to do when they get together for beer, The Society for Ales of Antiquity to celebrate those brewers who are brewing beers like those brewers who used to brew the beers as well as CAMWA or The Campaign For Watery Ale, to encourage movers and shakers to consider the thing that makes 87% to 96% of what is in the bottle.

The response has been, well, insignificant if I want to brag it up out of all proportions. But we cannot stop there. Now we need CAMNA, the Campaign for Nipped Ales, to demand that the higher the strength the smaller the beer. Look at that bottle of Anchor Old Foghorn. Look at the dime. That is a small bottle. Seven small ounces. A nip. And it is only an 8.8% brew. I am getting really tired of opening 22 ounce or even 750 ml bottles of 8% to 13% beer. It is too much. It costs too much, it is too much booze and it is an invitation to excess. You will say they are to be shared or saved for special occasions but I want the option to sip a little one alone on a Tuesday. Why can’t I except with a handful of beers from a few forward thinking brewers? How much would it really cost most moderately sized micros to put out a line of nips of their stronger offerings? Would it not make them more accessible, allow more people to have a try?

These are the questions asked by CAMNA – the only international organization of its stature which dares take on this cause and those lined up against it. Some may think the utter irrelevance of CAMNA to the discourse is a challenge but I say it is an opportunity – an opportunity to be the mouse that roared… in the forest where trees fall when no one in around… in a land far far away.

Medieval Ale Drinking In London

An exhibit opens this week in London, England which provides evidence as to the drinking habits of the locals from around 1300 AD:

Experts have uncovered evidence that 12th century Londoners drank ale by the gallon, starting at breakfast time, due to poor quality drinking water. Exhibits at the Museum of London, including a selection of old Toby jugs, depict tubby men with beer bellies. London’s many drinking dens entertained ‘immoderate quaffing by fools’, according to a writer of the time.

Here is the website for the museum’s new exhibit. That would be an interesting place for a correspondent to visit. Any takers?

Names for the Glass

A reply to Bruno’s post at his blog alerted us to the problem:

Heu… Un demi c’est 250ml, soit 1/4l, soit effectivement a peu pres une demi pinte.

This is the problem at set out in the post below:

…in France, when you order beer, the usual glass is the demi. France invented metric system, but some remains of the old days are still alive. A demi is in fact about half a pint, rounded to be 125ml. While a pint is being named distingué, and a liter of beer is a formidable (which I think means “smashing” – who knows why?)

That will soon read 250 ml. An email came flying across the Atlantic and, as it should, it has gotten me are talking about it.

For me a “glass” of beer is a specific thing, a 8 oz glass which kind of looks like a butt end of a baseball bat (shown right). You only order them in pairs except when an additional small can of tomato juice is allowed. These were the rules of the Jerry at the Midtown and they are alright by me. By comparison, a “pint” should be a straight-sided 20 oz glass with a bit of a wow up near the rim to give a bit of grip (shown left). Not that weird barrel-shaped dimply thing with the handle. In Holland, you ordered trays of small round glasses with about 5 ounces of liquid and five of foam, passes the tray around and drank them before the foam dissipated – “dead beer” they called one without a head even if there was plenty of carbonation. Never caught the name of that glass, though Alfons might know.

But both Bruno and I are mere amateurs in the world of beer glass names – even with the excellently named formidable for a litre – compared to Australians who have different glasses and different names for those glasses in each state. I have known an Aussie who owned a pub and apparently this is a matter of great importance. Ordering the wrong schooner in the wrong town in the wrong way apparently can cause variation in your sperm count level and that of those with you.