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Adulterated Beer in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure

Arabella said she would like some tea, and they entered an inn of an inferior class… They sat and looked round the room, and at the picture of Samson and Delilah which hung on the wall, and at the circular beer-stains on the table, and at the spittoons underfoot filled with sawdust. The whole aspect of the scene had that depressing effect on Jude which few places can produce like a tap-room on a Sunday evening when the setting sun is slanting in, and no liquor is going, and the unfortunate wayfarer finds himself with no other haven of rest.

It began to grow dusk… “I suppose we can have some beer,” said Arabella.

“Beer, oh yes. I had forgotten that. Somehow it seems odd to come to a public-house for beer on a Sunday evening.”

“But we didn’t.”

“No, we didn’t.” Jude by this time wished he was out of such an uncongenial atmosphere; but he ordered the beer, which was promptly brought.

Arabella tasted it. “Ugh!” she said.

Jude tasted. “What’s the matter with it?” he asked. “I don’t understand beer very much now, it is true. I like it well enough, but it is bad to read on, and I find coffee better. But this seems all right.”

“Adulterated—I can’t touch it!” She mentioned three or four ingredients that she detected in the liquor beyond malt and hops, much to Jude’s surprise.

“How much you know!” he said good-humouredly.

Nevertheless she returned to the beer and drank her share, and they went on their way.

From the Project Gutenberg edition of Jude the Obscure, 1894. Arabella’s ability to assess the quality of beer is later revealed to have been an omen of her terrible ‘worldliness’ — where else had she learned it but (gasp!) by hanging round in pubs?

3 replies on “Adulterated Beer in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure”

Are you sure Arabella wasn’t just trying craft beer for the first time ?
Most of the hop-bombs I taste these days have the same effect on me.

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