Weary, exhausted, and far from home, you catch a glimmer of light in the distance. Just a wee glimmer, but some semblance of humanity seems to be in the offing. The aroma of horse blanket and sweat fills the air, while you desperately push your steed beyond his instincts, onward toward familiarity, food and coveted slumber.
The tempting smell of victuals lingers in the air, luring you to the threshold of this dark, candle-lit “comfort house.” Somewhat of a bawdy place, it has attracted a mixture of tawdry ragamuffins and well-heeled gentlemen. Add a bit of ale, and the enticement is secured.
You crouch your head, rolling your broad shoulders through the rough-hewn doorway, where a cavernous room opens up, filled with strange samples of the human race. Cocky serving girls, lunatic musicians, and two-bit magicians work their way through the crowd, providing gimcrack amusement for any stranger who might glance their way.
In the more highly populated taverns of olde, entertainment took on many forms: A brawl between the weary, games of daring and chance, music from the highlands, and the beginnings of the tavern limerick.
In the mid 1800’s, Edward Lear (1812-1888), a contemporary and colleague of Lewis Carroll and Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, took it upon himself to popularize the limerick in a book of nonsense for children. An artist and writer, Lear traveled throughout Europe, Northern Africa and Asia, living an insouciant lifestyle of risk and instability. Lear, no doubt, spent considerable time in these vulgar establishments, where he attracted plebian acceptance with his rhymes of wit and outright humor.
Since the time of Edward Lear, the limerick remains a lingering symbol of creativity and bawdiness, rising and ebbing as an unconstrained “tavern pastime.” Easy to master, the rules of rhyme and humor blend with the moment in a little ballad where laughter and civility find their place.
Limericks can lift your spirit as a light-hearted after-dinner chaser. Sit back with brew in hand, enjoy a few limericks, and write a few of your own.
Limericks and Beer
Selected Beer: Brown-Eyed Girl – Firehouse Brewing Company, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA – English Brown Ale – This deep amber ale with small tawny head presents herself among flavors of brown sugar, roasted nuts, and mocha. A creamy mouthfeel and hoppy finish add to the balance.
There was a sweet girl from Gadzooks
Who spent all her time coaching crooks-
As thieves they had fun
And she needed no gun
‘Cause she’d just knock ‘em dead with her looks.
Selected Beer: Full Curl Wee Heavy Scotch Style Ale – Midnight Sun Brewing Company, Anchorage, Alaska, USA – Wee heavy / Scotch Ale – Ruddy mahogany brown with a thin head, this wee heavy imparts a warming and alcoholic profile, while caramel sweetness lingers amidst flavors of raisins and plums.
There was a weight trainer named Joe
Had a voice that was sexy and low -
He attracted a lass
With his muscular ass
And a bag overflowing with dough.
Selected Beer: Damnation – Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, California, USA – Belgian Strong Pale Ale – Uncage-and-cork this monstrously golden beauty, while complex flavors of peaches, melon, coriander, and hot spice envelope your mouth, finishing soft and bold in an explosion of delight.
There was a park ranger named Dale
Who liked making moonshine and ale-
He first filled a mug
But drank the whole jug
Then passed out and drowned in his pail.
Selected Beer: Tuppers Hop Pocket Pils – Tuppers’ Hop Pocket Brewing Company, Bethesda, Maryland, USA –German Pilsner – Hazy body of amber-orange is crowned with a rich, white head, while a crisp and citrusy profile of German hops merges with an exquisite earthy bitterness.
There was a young dealer named Ray
Who worked a casino all day-
He was a pick-pocket
And stole a girl’s locket
Adorning her neck with a lei.
Selected Beer: 1889 Amber Ale - Johnstown Brewing Company, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA – American Amber / Red Ale – Crystalline copper body is topped with a small, creamy head, then set in motion with toffee-caramel sweetness in a lightly-balanced subtle bitterness.
There was a bright wizard named Alan
Who consumed amber ale by the gallon-
And under his spell
Was a falcon from hell
Who would snatch brewer’s stout with his talon.
Selected Beer : Anchor Steam Beer – Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco, California, USA – California Common / Steam Beer – Light coppery amber liquid sports a white head and hints of yeasty bread, fruit, and spices.
There was a bold Mayor named Goode
Was king of the Park and the Hood-
The criminals said
He’d blow off their head
And no one dared test if he would.
Selected Beer: Key West Sunset Ale - Florida Beer Company, Ybor, Florida, USA - American Pale Ale – Sweet toasty malts rest among a citrus balance and pleasant mouthfeel.
There was a musician named Pete
Who always wore clogs on his feet-
And tattooed on his chest
Was a map of Key West
He was bawdy and quite indiscreet.
Take time to laugh!