Ever had a beer with a twang to it? A quality so subtle it transcends language?
The other week in Birmingham we ploughed through many issues of the highly entertaining and partisan Licensed Trade News. In the issue for 10 December 1904 we found this story taken from the Daily Telegraph with some added commentary, recounting events at Southwark Police Court on (we think) 6 December that year.
A publican who was sued at Southwark for beer supplied said he returned some of the stuff because it was very poor.
Judge Addison: How did you judge of that?
Defendant: I am a practical brewer.
Judge Addison: But did you judge it by its taste, because that is the way I should test it? (Laughter.)
Defendant: Yes, and there was a ‘twang’ about it.
Judge Addison: That is something we object to in people’s voices. (Laughter.) What do you mean by a ‘twang’ in beer?
Defendant: It left an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Judge Addison: That is what good beer does if you take too much – at least, that is what I am told. (Laughter.)
Defendant: I thought it had a tendency to acidity.
Judge Addison: But what is this ‘twang’?
Defendant: Well, it did not go down easy. (Laughter.)
Judge Addison: I suppose beer does not go down easy if you do not like it. (Laughter.) It goes down easy enough if you do like it.
Defendant: If beer is palatable it goes down easy. (Laughter.)
Judge Addison: Yes, with most of us. (Laughter.)
Defendant: You can’t drink a lot of it when it has got a ‘twang’.
Judge Addison: But why; What is this ‘twang’? If I had some here I could sample it for myself. (Laughter.)
Defendant: Well, it has an unpleasant taste.
Counsel: The ‘twang’, your honour, is so subtle that it transcends language.
Whatever would [temperance campaigner] Sir Wilfrid Lawson say if the Judge put his very practical suggestion of testing the beer by taste into fact, and there and then quaffed some glorious or inglorious beer as the sequel might prove in the fierce light of a police court? One thing is certain, viz., that Judge Addison is perfectly satisfied that it should be known that in the words of the old ditty he
‘Likes a drop of good beer.’
A few observations:
- The publican is an advocate of easy-drinking session beer, evidently.
- Said publican could do to go on an off-flavour identification course.
- Judge Addison doesn’t believe in tasting with eyes alone. Wise.
- His Judginess was right to challenge the word twang: did the publican actually mean tang? That would chime with his mention of acidity.
- Look at tasting notes all over Untappd/Ratebeer – twang remains a popular word!
- Either His Judgeworthiness had funny bones or this audience was easily pleased. (Laughter.)