Thursday 12 June 2014


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). 


  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.

  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)

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

  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 ;-)

  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.

  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.