Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Northfarthing Beer

An odd gift I brought home from my trip to LA in July was a leftover bottle of Northfarthing Beer. The owner had kept it as a souvenir for, let's see, 26 years now, and I guess was tired of having an unopened bottle of beer around. So since she certainly wasn't going to drink it, and I was one of the people responsible for this project in the first place, it was foisted off on me.

Like its previous owner, I stuck it off in a corner, and today is cleaning day and I happened to get into that corner, so I disposed of the contents and dumped the bottle in recycling. The part worth saving is the label, but it didn't come off cleanly and I already have one in a file somewhere anyway.

Northfarthing Beer was a project when we ran the 1995 Mythcon. One of our members, a connoisseur of the more demotic forms of alcohol, was determined to brew and bottle his own beer. We had quite a lot of it around that Mythcon, and I witnessed some of it actually being drunk.

The fun part of the planning was designing a label for a purported Shire-hobbits' beer. Kevin Farrell drew the illustrations, a scene of fields of grain in front of Bag End, and a copy of Tolkien's view of Bilbo in his front hall, only with huge stacks of beer barrels on either side. And I had the fun of composing the label text, which I'll preserve here.

Back label:
A premium beer brewed from the finest Northfarthing barley, Frogmorton hops and Brandywine spring water. Winner of the Peregrin Took Memorial Imbibing Award in S.R. 1502 and many succeeding years. We hope you will also try our other fine beers, Sharkey's Brew and Cotton's Mouth-Watering Lager.
Hobbits must be 33 years of age and present proof of identification to purchase this bottle.
Side label:
The Shirriff General has determined that drinking alcoholic beverages can be hazardous to your health. Do not attempt to stay on your feet in bathtubs, wrest swords from barrow-wights, fight Nazg├╗l, orcs, or malignant trees, or cast Rings into active volcanoes while under the influence of alcohol.
I enjoyed writing that, stopping into a liquor store and examining some actual bottles for inspiration, though I'm not sure anyone ever caught the cheap puns or if they were just too restrained to mention them.

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