A.K., H.K., Hock ale – Birds of a Feather? (Part II)

Summarizing my view of a plausible relationship among the Victorian English beer types H.K., A.K., and hock, it’s like this.

From “Hopped and Keepable”, a term in Fuller’s mid-1800s records, we get H.K., a beer type in those records and clearly the initialism.

From H.K., we get hock, by how H.K. sounds pronounced as a word, in effect an acronym. A surmise, but persuasive imo.

By similar surmise, from H.K. we get A.K., either from an early misreading of hand-lettered H.K. or from dropping the h. But assume the h doesn’t drop for initialisms (the “aitch” factor). Then or in any case it comes from dropping the h in hock. “Ock” seems quite close to A.K. If an ill-lettered person scrawled “awk” or “ock”, it could come out as A.K.

In these readings, since “hopped and keepable” is the root, A.K. retains the sense of keeping, which a brewer stated in 1870 means “keeping ale”. There is the added nuance of keepable too, due to the descent suggested. This helps to understand why A.K., a beer sold within a few weeks after racking, could be viewed as a pale ale (stored) type and why the k in A.K. has the sense of keeping.

Let’s assume though Fuller’s 1800s hock derives from the old festival hock ale, or from a synonym for white porter borrowed from the British term for a German white wine. In either case, if H.K. and A.K. derive from that hock, then “hopped and keepable” and “ale for keeping” would be retrospective, erroneous readings.

Such alternate derivations seem unlikely to us though for reasons discussed yesterday in our Part I.

Of course too, maybe H.K. isn’t related to any sense of hock, and/or A.K. isn’t related to either of them. It’s possible, but doubtful in my view.

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