The introduction - where the author complains of the proliferation of wine books and paucity of beer books, despite beer being a far more popular drink - gained my immediate sympathy. It's a complaint that you could just as easily make today.
"I have spent a great deal of time seeking for an authoritative ruling as to the kind of vessel from which beer should be drunk. Should it be drunk from a glass or from a tankard? What kind of glass or tankard should it be drunk from? Should it first be poured into a jug or should it be transferred direct from cask or bottle to the drinking vessel?
These are questions I have asked in country inns and in London clubs. I have asked stockbrokers and road sweepers, air pilots and bus conductors, policemen and politicians. But although they most of them hold definite views upon the subject they can give no reason for holding those views and their views show in extraordinarily wide variation.
'Why,' I asked a ploughman in Norfolk, do you drink your beer from a tankard?' 'Because it tastes better that way,' he replied instantly. But he was unable to say why beer should taste better when drunk from a metal container than when drunk from a glass.
'Why,' I asked the head of a drapery business in London, 'do you drink your beer from a tankard?'
He thought For a moment. 'I suppose it's just a habit,' he said. 'Everybody does.'
When I pressed him further he hazarded the suggestion that the tankard was traditional. 'Why,' I asked a pilot as I stood at the bar of a west country aerodrome, 'do you drink your beer from a tankard?'
'Because it keeps it cool,' he replied. I asked him if he had any scientific evidence of that fact and he replied that the co-efficient of conductivity of pewter was higher than that of glass.
'You must keep the beer cool,' he said, 'if it is to be at its best and to do that you must provide for a quick flow of heat from the beer.'
I wondered if the provision of a container made of metal with high conductivity might not rather conduct the heat from the surrounding air into the beer; but I did not put the point.
The most surprising argument I heard in favour of the metal tankard was that, if there was a fight, you could hit a person on the head with a tankard without doing him so much harm as if you hit him over the head with a glass. 'I suppose,' drily remarked someone else who was listening to the conversation, 'that is why glasses are used in nearly all public houses nowadays.'
Many experienced drinkers seem to regard the drinking of beer from a glass as a sort of sacrilege and it is strange that they can offer no rational explanation for their views. I have never heard glasses advocated; but I have many times heard tankards advocated with considerable violence. Yet one could say that a glass enables the colour of the beer and its clearness to be appreciated although a tankard does not."
"A Book about Beer" by A. Drinker, 1934, pages 73 - 75.
I like the last explanation best: it doesn't do as much damage in a fight. Ah, the British, with their fish and chips, cups of tea and fighting. They haven't changed much over the years.
And that pilot knocking back a pint in the airport bar. Not something you see often nowadays, what with the ridiculously over-protective safety rules. Doesn't it make you wish you were living in the 1930's? Though there were a couple of less attractive features of the decade: the rise of fascism and the start of the world' most destructive war ever. Still, no decade's perfect, is it?