Thursday, 12 June 2014

Labels

Those were the days my friends and we thought the laughs would never end etc etc and so on, but here is the real past: beer labels that St Austell faced the world with in the 1980s and 90s. Smugglers Ale with the barrels, sailing ship and a lonely cove, close to a kids’ visual ideal of Cornwall; Cornish Ale, presumably made for the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin, whose parrot was ever so moth-eaten I seem to remember when I stopped by there in 1989, and then, and then, he pauses for effect, we have the gloriously entitled Cripple Dick illustrated by a holly leaf and couple of cherries. I think we got the joke. Oh things were so much more innocent over 20 years ago or not (oh look there’s Brown Willy, which is actually a hill on Bodmin for those of you who might take offence at this, pass me my smelling salts). On the other hand here’s a Guinness label, as bottled by St Austell from a time when a lot of breweries did such a thing. Artefacts from the past, embracing in their embarrassment indeed but not to be forgotten. The more light we shine on the past the faster we go forward — there’s nothing to hide here but naff branding, which a lot of breweries are complicit in (be interested to see how some of today’s imagery stands up in a couple of decades time). Fashions and tastes change, the future isn’t an incline or a decline, whatever exponents of both will say; the future muddles on though Cripple Dick (and its spiky graphic) is thankfully a thing of the past (though it’s not for me to say that’s a huge social benefit or not). 

7 comments:

  1. Holly berries, shirley. Awful label or not, at 11.7% I'm sorry to have missed the Cripple Dick experience!

    There's a Cornish folk song about ploughing with oxen which a friend of mine sings. Researching it out of curiosity, I discovered that my friend was omitting the second verse. I can't imagine why...

    Then it's O my little ploughboy, come awaken in the morn
    For the cock upon the dunghill is a-blowing up his horn
    Soon the sun above Brown Willy his yellow face will show
    And it's hasten to the linney, yoke the oxen to the plough


    Innocent times.

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  2. There was another Cornish brewery that produced a Cripple Dick, think it might have been Keltek under the previous owner, round about 2002, while the folk song is very Carry on Cornwall (as it does)

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  3. This era shall be mocked more and will deserve it richly. Cherry saison indeed.

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  4. really? every era of every endeavour of human behaviour is mockable, for instance I always laugh my gussets off whenever I see vintage footage of hippies going on about love and peace, while cherry saison sounds like a nice livener about 10am on a Saturday morning ;-)

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  5. When one aspect of the era is that beer is being made that covers up beer flavours, I fully expect mocking to point out the craft Zima aspect of what is going on at the moment.

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  6. hold on — beer flavours? what was a beer flavour 100 years ago, 20 years ago even? There is no certainty about beer flavour. Have no fear of the zima (whatever it is), but on the other hand I am eternally watchful and sceptical of trunk loads of hops being used to mask brewing deficiencies. ‘This is our IPA and it is meant to taste like licking the inside of a carburetor.

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