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Apr 16, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 4
Yard of ale

Oct. 24, 2002

In asking us about the origin of a "Yard of ale" a reader writes, "Does it have something to do with keeping the beer from going flat, or did some royal duke start the fad?" In fact, legend has it that these glasses were designed for drinking and driving.

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You are probably familiar with yard longs -- they stand about three-feet tall with a bulb shape at the bottom and are designed to hold not quite a liter of beer. You see them quite often in pubs with an English or Irish theme as well as many home bars. They usually sit in wooden holders when not in use. Half yards are also sold.

The earliest reference to this type of glass was recorded in the diary of a John Evelyn in 1685. He referred to the Sheriff and the Commander of the Kentish Troop in Bromley drinking to the health of King James II from a "glasse of a yard long."

The story goes that the glass was specifically designed to meet the needs of stagecoach drivers who were always in hurry to get to their destinations. The glass had to be long enough to hand to the driver without his having to leave the stagecoach. The design of the glass meant that the stagecoach driver could drive without losing control and drink at the same time. He could also have his glass refilled without letting go of the reins.

Original yard of ale glasses can still be found in England, but are collected as antiques and may can expensive.

The trials and tribulations of Guinness

The Wall Street Journal has a story today (Oct. 24) that looks at efforts by Guinness to "reposition (itself) as a sort of black lager to lure younger customers on both sides of the Atlantic." One of the steps is the "quick draw" option that we've written about before.

Guinness owner Diageo has also launched a new series of print and television ads, which started running in February in the U.K. and Ireland and will be adapted for the U.S. in coming months. They extol Guinness's image of strength and virility, along with a touch of humor. In one TV spot, an erupting volcano nearly destroys a village, leaving a bar in flames with a keg of Guinness trapped inside. A young man calmly removes his shoes and walks barefoot across the lava, re-emerging with a pint held aloft as villagers cheer.

Guinness has been told it must pull this commercial in Ireland because of a complaint the beer is being advertised as a "source of power." This while sales in Ireland, which represent about 20% of world-wide volume, have been falling 3% to 4% in each of the past several years. Although the brand still has nearly half the Irish beer market, young drinkers have turned to lighter, trendy premixed drinks such as Diageo's Smirnoff Ice (which, unlike the U.S. version, has vodka in it).

Guinness sales down in Ireland. A Guinness ad banned in Ireland. What's the world coming to?

Tasting notes

Both from the Celebrator Beer News Tasting Panel

HAZELNUT BROWN NECTAR
Brewed by Rogue Ales in Oregon
Begins with rich, sweet malt and nutty aromas. Flavors are likewise rich and sweet up front with a nutty middle with coffee and raisin notes. Well-balanced and delicious. This beer would pair well with pancakes.

INDIAN BROWN ALE
Brewed by Dogfish Head in Delaware
Another unique beer from Delaware's premier craft brewer, this is a cross between a brown ale and an IPA - a hoppy brown ale, we suppose. With flowery hop character and nutty aromas, flavors mix the bitter and malty sweetness into a one-of-a-kind taste.

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