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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Third Down on the One Yard Line

If you go into some of the really old rural pubs on England you'll find hanging over the bar, on its side, on two brackets, a Yard Glass. A Yard (or Yard Glass ) is a very tall glass used for drinking beer; a Yard (or Yard of Ale ) also refers to the (variable) quantity of beer held by such a glass. The glass is approximately 1 yard long, shaped with a bulb at the bottom, and a widening shaft which constitutes most of the height. Because the glass is so long and in any case does not usually have a stable flat base, it is hung on the wall when not in use.

Drinking a yard glass full of beer is a traditional pub game. The object is to drink the entire glassful without pausing for breath, and/or to drink it as quickly as possible. The tradition is most often associated with drunken and disorderly tomfoolery in party-like environments.
( WhoooHooo )
Because of the shape of the glass, once it is raised and the liquid starts to flow, it is difficult to pause. When attempted by the novice, the liquid may flow out in a rush and soak the person holding the glass, usually I have noted when the sudden in-rush of air into the bulb creates a Tsunami of ale. To counteract this the glass is usually rotated as it is held. Another good tip ( as the drinker is usually offered what ale he would like in the Yard ) is to choose an ale that isn't cold or fizzy, lager drinkers take note, as you can imagine the consequences of wrapping yourself round 2 pints of that in a hurry.

I used to chose a good soft Mild when they had it on sale. ( I still wait for the day that it comes on tap again. ) Porter is a good second option.
The "Yard of Ale" is sometimes associated with Rugby team rituals, and with the compulsory "drinking of the fish from the bulb of the yard" imposed upon a newly qualified submarine sailor by one's qualified shipmates at a tavern ashore.
The glass most likely originated in 17th-century England where the glass was known also as a "Long Glass", a "Cambridge Yard (Glass)" and an "Ell Glass". Such a glass was a testament to the glassblower's skill as much as the drinker's. The diarist and Fellow of the Royal Society John Evelyn records the formal yet festive drinking of a yard of ale toast to James II at Bromley in Kent, 1683.

Its good to see that my county of Oxfordshire still hold the record for guzzling one of these beauty's, as the fastest drinking of a yard of ale in the Guinness Book of Records is 5 seconds: Peter Dowdswell of Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, England, ( the next door county ), drank a yard of ale containing 2 imperial pints (1.14 litres or 1.20 U.S. quarts) in 5 seconds at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire on May 4, 1975.

Sir Dayvd ( with a Field Degree in Tomfoolery ) of Oxfordshire.


  1. Five seconds for a Yard?! WOW! I've never tried a yard before. I'm putting that on my bucket list. Thanks Sir Dayvd for another entertaining and informative post. We must find out if ole' Peter is still drinking? Seems like material for an honorary Knightship in KMSA!

  2. Holy Ale,Batman.
    I woke up this morning and see THREE new posts. It's the "tipping point"

    Speaking of tipping.

    I know exactly what I'd say after attempting to drink a yard, "I look good in every beer I wear!"

    Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

  3. In the name of all that is holy, kind, good and downright celebratory in this great land of freedom and democracy... I'VE GOT TO GET ME ONE OF THOSE!!!

    Sir Joseph Gould of Exeter