Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Oath of the Ale-Conner.

I touched upon the role of an ale-conner in a post several years ago, and today I want to add a little something interesting to the story. First, to re-cap: a ‘conner ‘ is ‘one who tries, tests, or examines,’ and an ale-conner is (or rather, was) ‘an officer appointed by a court leet or other local authority to test for the assize the ale brewed (and sometimes the bread baked) in his or her jurisdiction.’  

With an important role goes a great deal of responsibility of course, and officers such as ale-conners, bedels, brokers, sheriffs and so on were required to swear an oath before taking up their positions. The oaths of various officials of the City of London were recorded in the first book of English common law – the Liber Albus: the White Book of the City of London, published in 1419 by John Carpenter.  

Oath of the Ale-Conners.
You shall swear, that you shall know of no brewer or brewster, cook, or pie-baker, in your Ward, who sells the gallon of best ale for more than one penny halfpenny, or the gallon of second for more than one penny, or otherwise than by measure sealed and full of clear ale; or who brews less than he used to do before this cry, by reason hereof, or withdraws himself from following his trade the rather by reason of this cry; or if any persons shall do contrary to any one of these points, you shall certify the Alderman of your Ward [thereof] and of their names. And that you, so soon as you shall be required to taste any ale of a brewer or brewster, shall be ready to do the same; and in case that it be less good than it used to be before this cry, you, by assent of your Alderman, shall set a reasonable price thereon, according to your discretion; and if any one shall afterwards sell the same above the said price, unto your said Alderman you shall certify the same. And that for gift, promise, knowledge, hate, or other cause whatsoever, no brewer, brewster, huckster, cook, or pie-baker, who acts against any one of the points aforesaid, you shall conceal, spare, or tortiously aggrieve; nor when you are required to taste ale, shall absent yourself without reasonable cause and true; but all things which unto your office pertain to do, you shall well and lawfully do.—So God you help, and the Saints.

And as the recipe for the day, another version of beer soup:

Beer Soup
Fry brown half a pound of bread crumbs in fresh butter; add a quart of strong beer, as much good red wine, some chopped lemon-peel, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar; make it into a light bouillon, and pour the whole over some slices of bread fried in butter.
 (French Domestic Cookery 1846 , by Louis Eustache Audot

[From the section on German Cookery]

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