Justice With a Twang

A news report (via British Newspaper Archive) appeared thus in the Northwich Guardian, December 14, 1904:


A publican who was sued at Southwark for beer supplied returned some of the stuff because it was very poor.

Judge Addison: How do you judge of that?

Defendant : I am a practical brewer.

Judge Addison: But did you judge its taste, because that is the way I should test it? (Laughter.)

Defendant: Yes, and there was “twang” about it.

Judge Addison: That is something we object to in people’s voices. (Laughter.) What you mean by a “twang” beer?

Defendant: It left an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Judge Addison: That is what good beer does if you take too much—at least, that is what I am told. (Laughter.)

Defendant: I thought it had a tendency to acidity.

Judge Addison: But what is this “twang?”

Defendant: Well, it did not down easy. (Laughter.)

Judge Addison: I suppose beer does not go down easy if you not like it. (Laughter.) It goes down easy enough if you do like it. (Renewed laughter.)

Defendant: If beer is palatable it does go down easy. (Laughter.)

Judge Addison: Yes, with most us. (Laughter.)

Defendant: You can’t drink lot of it when it has got “twang.”

Judge Addison: But why? What is this “ twang?” If I had some here I could sample for myself. (Laughter.)

Defendant: Well, it has an unpleasant taste.

Counsel: The “twang,” your honour, is so subtle that it transcends language. (Laughter.)

Assuming this was representative of how the case went, it was discreditable to the judge and justice. The publican made a reasonable argument: the beer had an unnatural taste, and when pressed by the judge, he explained it as acidity, or tending to same.

We who know beer can understand what was meant.

The fact that the publican had brewed beer himself adds weight to his claim.

The judge seemed to treat the matter for sport, reeling off one-liners more worthy of a comic on stage. There is a place for humour on the bench, but unless this passage was atypical of the court proceedings, the judge took it too far.

His remark about twang in accents sits ill no less.

I hope the parties, both of them, got justice, whatever the result. Reading this exchange though, I have to wonder.

(I think it’s clear the “Counsel” quoted represented the brewery suing for its money).






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