Hull cheese
Posted: 02 June 2007 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In a historical novel set in the late eighteenth century, I came across the expression “(he has)taken Hull cheese”.  It wasn’t obvious from the context what this meant.  Does anyone have any idea or did the author perhaps make it up?

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Posted: 02 June 2007 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Via a couple of routes, Google and Onelook, I come to this:  “ Strong ale, or rather intoxicating cake, like “tipsy cake,” thus described by Taylor, the water-poet: “It is much like a loafe out of a brewer’s basket; it is composed of two simples—mault and water, … and is cousin-germane to the mightiest ale in England. (See vol. ii. of Taylor’s Works.)”

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Posted: 02 June 2007 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Apparently Hull was at that time celebrated for the manufacture of good ale. A proverb of the time, “You have eaten Hull cheese,” meant you’re drunk.
Read more here.

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Posted: 03 June 2007 01:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks, Eliza.  Now, I come to think of it the quote was “eaten Hull cheese”, not “taken” and the meaning of being drunk makes sense with the narrative.

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Posted: 22 June 2007 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Apparently Hull was at that time celebrated for the manufacture of good ale.

Actually it was more that Hull was the port through which strong ales from Burton upon Trent were exported to the Baltic, and also to London, having travelled down the Trent by barge ...

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Posted: 22 June 2007 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It was at this period customary for the corporation, from time to time, during the sitting of Parliament, to send its representative a present of one or two barrels of the famous Hull ale. Peregrine Pelham,* M.P., for Hull, in 1640, writing to the corporation says : - “ I am much importuned for Hull ale, both by Lords and Commons, who are willing to further me in anything that concerns your towne. . . .If it please you to send me a tonne of Hull ale, and leave it to my disposeing, it will not be lost,” and in another letter he tells them that the Speaker had asked for “some Hull ale.”

genuki link from my original link

and from my original citation:

At that time Hull was as celebrated for the manufacture of good ale as Burton-on-Trent is to-day.

edit:

The Yorkshire Archaeological Society’s Index of Wills contains several references to beer (ale) brewers in Hull during the 15th and 16th centuries dates include 1459 to 1533.

link
[ Edited: 22 June 2007 12:56 PM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 22 June 2007 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thank you, ElizaD, for the links to the John Taylor quote and the other references - I have been researching the history of beer and brewing for many years (that’s why I’m called Zythophile) and I had never heard of Hull being particularly famous for beer, hence my feeling that this must be a reference to Burton beers shipped through Hull. I know a lot of John Taylor stuff on ale and beer (he loved the former and hated the latter) but not that particular reference. I also know that Pepys reference, but had assumed he was drinking Burton beer shipped via Hull. Hull and East Yorkshire Breweries by Pat Aldabella and Robert Barnard says

Hull was famous for thick, heavy beers from medieval times but by the 19th century they were thought unpalatable, indigestible and inferior to the products of London and Burton

and if Hull beer was thick perhaps that’s why they called it Hull Cheese - an otherwise unanswered question ...
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Posted: 22 June 2007 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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No problem, zythophile.  I know Hull fairly well (though nothing about brewing) and I was also very surprised to hear that the city had been renowned for brewing ale.  We live and learn.  Your thoughts on the origin of “Hull cheese” referring to the thickness of the ale are very interesting and might be worth following up, though I suspect there may not be much more evidence online.  If you do find anything, please let us know.

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