Refreshing Pale Ale, Delhi, 1857

Lt General Sir Hope Grant GCD

In his diaries, published posthumously in 1894, General Sir James Hope Grant (1808-1875) recalled the siege of Delhi during the 1857 ‘Indian Mutiny’:

“I must here mention that during the terribly hot weather beer was my great stand-by. In fact, I scarcely think I could have existed without this balmy nectar — it put such vigour and strength into my sadly exhausted frame. We were also very fortunate, during the first three month, in procuring an ample supply of Bass and Allsopp’s best brew, as all the houses in the north [of India] sent as much as they could — knowing the uncertainty of being able to retain it in the state the country was in. I had as yet no A.D.C., when one day I received a note from Captain the Honourable Richard Curzon, who had been military secretary to General Anson before his death, asking me if I would take young Augustus Anson, who had lost his appointment as A.D.C. to his uncle. I at once agreed to do so, and the young gentleman accordingly came to my tent to introduce himself to me. He was an intelligent, good-looking young fellow, with a look of honest determination in his countenance which pleased me greatly; but as he felt a natural diffidence on his first appearance, and looked rather pale and worn out, I proceeded to my bed, drew out from underneath a bottle of sparkling beer, and gave him a tumbler of the delicious elixir. He had scarcely quaffed it off when the change appeared marvellous — his diffidence departed from him, his countenance brightened up with a rosy hue, and a great friendship was soon established between us.”

Picture from The National Media Museum.

Beery Yarns: Jags and Shooters

Lambeth Road-London
South London, 1969. Source: Ken-Zan on Flickr.

Steve at Beers I’ve Known is hosting the Session this month and says: ‘I want to hear your beery tall tales, yarns, recollections (in a Grandpa Simpson stylee) or otherwise, delivered in the manner that you befits sitting around a log fire, favourite beer in hand.’

One of our friends — let’s call him Aidan — told us the best story we’ve ever heard in a pub.

Aidan was born in Dublin but brought up in South London, and spent his childhood playing in the post-Blitz rubble. He seems to know everyone in every pub from Battersea to Southwark, and most of the black cab drivers, too.

He used to be a mod/suedehead/skinhead, though he’s also an extremely tolerant lefty with no time for fascists, and still wears a button-down shirt and bovver boots.

He’s softly spoken, but if someone starts causing trouble in the pub, with a cold stare and a couple of whispered words, he can shut them up and have them backing contritely out of the door.

He’s a geezer, in short.

He doesn’t talk about himself much but, one day, when we were having a few pints with him in a place near Victoria Station, there was a lull in the conversation, and he decided to fill the gap.

One evening in the late sixties or early seventies, he told us, he and a few of his mates decided to go to an underground nightclub in Waterloo. Everything was going well — lots of beer, lots of dancing, lovely girls — but then, something went wrong. They chatted up the wrong bloke’s girlfriend or stood on the wrong person’s toes — who knows?

Anyway, before they knew it, there they were being pursued through the dark streets of late-night Lambeth by a gang of lads who wanted to kill them. Knives were out.

This is the punchline of his tale:

Luckily, someone who knew us saw us being chased on the other side of the road and he got on the blower… Have you heard of the Richardsons? Back then, you were sort of ‘affiliated’ with either them or the Krays. Anyway, suddenly, this Jag pulls up, squealing tires and all that, and a couple of blokes with shooters jump out… they bundle us all in… and we’re away…

He calmly polished off his bottle of Budvar while we sat open-mouthed. Fortunately, another nearby drinker stepped in to give the only acceptable response: ‘That’s nothing! I remember when I was in Moscow once…’

Bonus feature: we wrote about Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales from the White Hart, an anthology of science-fictional pub yarns, on Facebook.

Top Beer Tweets of 2013

These are some Tweets about beer we enjoyed in 2013.

1. Ed defines craft beer:

(He later expanded this thought in a blog post.)

2. Simon wins our nomination for Tweeter of the year:

Read more top Tweets after the jump →