Wednesday 20 July 2011

Bath Ales

I was in our local Waitrose this evening when I saw a new beer on the shelves in the wines and ales department. It was called, "Bath Ales GEM."The label looked rather bland and , to be honest, not really trying to sell itself.A mat orange background , not the sort of in your face orange, bursting into bright glaring flames in fron t of your eye balls but rather a mustardy orange like a pool of sick. But the name Bath in the title intrigued me. Must be a new brewery in Jane country, I thought, quizzically.So I bought a bottle. And when I got home I poured it into a pint glass and tasted. Well, not bad. A malty aroma with a gentle hoppy taste. Yes, quite palatable. I decided I could drink it. However, before the pint of Bath Ale disappeared down my parched gullet I took a picture of the bottle and my pint glass full with the delightful amber liquid.

What would Jane have made of this brew? Well there were pubs just off Milsom Street. I don't think she went into one herself though. Near Steventon and Chawton there are some excellent pubs and some were probably there in her day. English country pubs tend to be old, I'm talking 13th and 14th century.Jane visited some as coaching inns on her way to London, or Winchester, or even in the short distance to Alton from Chawton. Her brother Edward is thought to have built and owned a pub in the village of Farringdon, a mile from Chawton, a place Jane often walked to. He  employed a landlord to manage it. Jane had friends in Farringdon so she knew her brother's public house.

Just in case you are interested here is a link to the Bath brewery.


  1. Tony-
    I guess I'm not much of an expert on Austen, because I had no idea that her brother is suspected of owning a pub. Also, that English country pubs are so old!
    I'm learning new things from you all the time.

  2. Tony, I agree with you about the label. It really doesn't try to sell itself. While I might not have described the shade of orange quite as colorfully as you did (!) I do wonder why they did not choose a more attractive shade. Or a different color altogether. Makes one doubt one has picked up a "gem"! But I'd love to try it - you know, Bath and all ...

  3. Oh! I didn't know that Edward owned a pub. Funny thought, a parson's son being a pub-owner... Interesting!

  4. Cheers ... have one for me!

    @Anna -- this is the CoE, not Baptists or Methodists: there is along tradition of Church Ales etc. remember that water was often not safe to drink and 'small' (low alcohol) beer a staple.

  5. @Michael: You're right - it was safer for people to drink alcoholic drinks than water, and I'm sure that Jane Austen herself indulged in wine regularly. Taken out of context, though, I thought the idea of a pub-owning parson's son was funny.

    @Tony: I enjoyed reading your article on men and Jane Austen in Jane Austen's Regency World. It's good to hear a man's point of view, as I'm sure you can read a lot more into the male characters than us ladies can. A refreshing take on Jane Austen!

  6. Oh thanks Anna. It was quite a privilege to be asked to write an article. I was wondering if anybody had read it.