Brasenose Ale, Oxfordshire
Beer. Liquid bread to monks. The safest thing to drink for centuries, being boiled in the process unlike well-water. And something around which in Britain a thousand ceremonies and traditions, big and little, have evolved.
At Brasenose College in Oxford one such ceremony survives and thrives, still celebrated every Shrove Tuesday as it has been for centuries. Twelve pints of ale – once brewed in the college’s own brewhouse, but tragically that was shut in 1889 – political correctness gone mad – are sweetened with sugar to taste, spiced with plenty of grated nutmeg and a sprinkling of cloves, the lot heated and then served in a giant silver tankard, with half a dozen roast apples floating on the top. Students drinking large quantities of beer. Whatever next?
The ale is served after dinner on the evening of Shrove Tuesday. A secondary element of the tradition also thrives, as it has since at least the early 18th century: the writing of verses, generally with topical references, to be read by the Butler of the college as the ale is enjoyed. Such luminaries as William Webb Ellis (famously if erroneously credited with inventing rugby), and the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, famous for his work at Knossos, have contributed verses in their time.
2 Responses to Brasenose Ale
From Martin on 2nd April 2012
And the award for humourless twit goes to the archivist.
From Brasenose College Archivist on 11th September 2009
The brewhouse was not closed for reasons of 'political correctness gone mad', but because an entirely new quadrangle was being built.