The Ale Conner, or Beer Taster.
Perhaps one of the best jobs ever.
The Best Job on Earth
The Ale Conner, or Beer Taster.
An Ale Conner was an officer appointed yearly by the court-leet of ancient English communities to ensure that all beer sold was fit to drink. Another part of the Ale Connors job was to ensure that the beer was sold at a fair price and not be to stogy.
Every year four ale Conner’s out of 100’s of volunteers were chosen by the City, or Guildhall Hall to carryout this hard and time consuming task. It was a hard position to hold as most Ale Conner’s found they had to work all day and sometimes all night in-order to accomplish there task.
It is said the position of Ale Conner the oldest public office in England was created by William the Conqueror in the 11 century. Throughout the years many famous people held this position., one of them in 1556 was the father of William Shakespeare then living in Stratford-upon-Avon, and may explain why William never saw his father or mentioned him ever again.
An Ale Conner would set off with the Town Crier and accompanying hangers on at the crack of dawn. Clad in leather short legged britches, carrying a small 3 legged wooden stool he would visit his first establishment. Once inside the Town Crier would announce the arrival and beer (free of charge) would be issued to the party then, once consumed the Ale Conner would then stand on the stool bending and touching his toes for all to see his hind quarters. This was deemed necessary as some Ale Conners were not fair and sewed hooks into there britches in-order to hold onto the stool. The Town Crier would then ask a person (normally a good looking wench) to feel the hind quarters of the Ale Conner and make sure he was clean. Beer was then poured onto the wooden stool and the Conner would then sit for five minutes. After five minutes he would then rise, if at that point the stool stuck to his britches the beer was deemed not fit to be drank and a fine or loss of license would be given to the owner. If on the other hand the stool remained on the floor the beer would be found to be fit to drink and more beer was offered by the landlord to all concerned. Once finished a certificate would be issued to the barkeep to be hung behind his bar thus proving the goodliness of his ale. The Town Crier and Ale Conner would then carry on in merriment to the next establishment to continue this despicable job.
Although times have changed this tradition still survived into the 20th Century in London as late as 1911. Four Ale Conners were chosen there duties were to examine the measures used by beer and liquor sellers to guard against fraud, and they were chosen as per tradition by the liverymen in the common hall all assembled on Midsummer Day. This was to be the last time for unfortunately, since ale and beer have become excisable commodities, the custom of appointing ale-tasters has in most places fallen into disuse.
That is apart from a beautiful City called Gloucester in England who along with there Town Crier Alan Myatt still does this every year and yes they visit every pub, where they complete the Ale Conners duty while raising money for charity.
A great day as I can testify I’ve done it.
So here’s to the best job on earth lets bring it back