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Behind the brewery name "Neckstamper"

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Every story begins with a name. But how much thought is given to where that name came from?

Calling our brewery "Neckstamper" wasn't a simple choice and some people ask whether the term is literal...we can assure you that it is not. 

The current rise and rise of craft brewing in London is quite amazing. And whilst the current craft brewing trend is a modern one, the beer industry itself is far from a recent phenomenon. Hence, we looked to London's history to inspire us with a traditional name that we could give a modern twist; both for the brewery itself and to help bring back old names and terms through the beers we brew. Reading through old dictionaries shows how many old words have become obsolete, especially "canting" or slang terminology. And there it was, amongst the old cant terms used in beer culture from over 300 years ago... Neckstamper.

According to many accounts, the so-called "neck-stamper" was the slang term given to the pot-boy (or girl) at an ale-house or tavern since the 1600s. One of the neck-stamper's jobs was to collect drinking vessels - bottles or tankards - that had previously been sent out full of beer to private homes or other establishments. Yes...takeaway beer in the 17th century!

The origin of the name is unclear, but a couple of suggestions have been suggested;

  1. Neck because drinking vessels were strung round the pot-boy's neck and Stamper because Stampers was the slang for shoes and the neck-stamper stamped around the streets.
  2. Neck as a variant of 'nick' which was the indent in the bottom of a bottle or tankard that reduced the amount of liquid in the vessel (much to a customer's disgust in the 1600s) and Stamper was a slang term for 'carrier'.

Nowadays the term is obsolete, however, we think that it is an apt choice given that in the early days of Neckstamper Brewing we will be doing almost everything related to the brewery ourselves, from brewing the beer to driving the van that delivers the kegs - Neckstamper's very own neck-stampers!

Behind the beer names

Squencher

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The word squencher is a slang corruption of the phrase "thirst quencher". It was used extensively during the Victorian era to refer to the first beer that was enjoyed after a hard day of labour.

That first beer was the one that workers had been looking forward to all day and was so thirst quenching (squenching) that it was consumed effortlessly.

In local dialect from the county of Sussex, the word Squencher was also used in conjunction with the word Husser as in a Husser and Squencher referring to a dram of gin with a pot of beer. Arguably this could be seen as the origins of the "boilermaker" which usually means a shot of whisky paired with a beer, although even the origins of this phrase appear to be murky at best

We chose the name Squencher for our juicy IPA as it gets right to the heart of your thirst. 

Buy cans of Neckstamper Squencher IPA in our online shop.

Moon Curser

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Moon curser was a cant term used to describe a link boy - one that carried a torch (or link) that could be hired to aid pedestrians around the dark areas of London at night. They were called moon cursers as they were said to curse the moon as its presence rendered their assistance unnecessary.  However, there was a sinister side, with some said to  lead unsuspecting pedestrians into a trap. According to the 1904 publication "The Old Farmer and his Almanack" by George Lyman Kittredge, a Moon Curser is... 

...one that waits at some Corner of Lincolns-Inn-Fields with a Link in his hand, who under the pretence of Lighting you over the fields, being late and few stirring, shall light you into a Pack of Rogues that wait for the comming of this Setter, and so they will all joyne in the Robbery.
— The Old Farmer and his Almanack

We chose the name Moon Curser for our hop forward American Pale Ale as it is brewed with extra pale malts so appears as pale as the moon and you will likely curse at how fine it tastes!

Buy cans of Neckstamper Moon Curser APA in our online shop.

Elbow Crooker

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Put simply, an elbow crooker is a drinker. It comes from the term to "crook one's elbow", the action of bending (or crooking) the elbow so that the drink could reach one's mouth. 

The phrase "crook your elbow" first seems to appear in Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue first published in 1785, but it refers to adding weight to an oath or spoken truth which is akin to the more modern "cross my heart and hope to die" rather than relating to bending the elbow to drink. 

Subsequently, in A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant published by Charles Godfrey Leland in 1889, it is first referenced as a term used by thieves to mean a heavy drinker. Latterly, the meaning has softened to mean more of a beerhound or regular drinker.

Our session IPA is a balance of malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness so you will want to crook your elbow again and again. And since it is brewed to a sessionable ABV of 4% you can do so and remain a responsible drinker.

Neckstamper Elbow Crooker Session IPA is currently only available in keg, but you are likely to find it at one of our favourite pubs.

Mizzle

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This was one of the hardest beers to name. A New England IPA is heavily hopped to produce a hazy, cloudy beer with tropical flavours, juicy and resinous mouthfeel and slight to no bitterness. However, in the 17th and 18th century juicy, tropical flavours weren't commonplace and certainly not in ale houses!

A mizzle is a cross between a mist and a drizzle. Too moist to be a mist, but not wet enough to be a full on drizzle. The phrase has been used in printed text since the 1500s, with John Lyly writing in 1580 in "Euphues and his England"... But in the midst of my striuing, it seemed to mysell gold, with faire drops... with a footnote describing that "to mysell or mizzle is to rain in very fine drops".

However, for some, this description of more than a mist and less than a drizzle seems a bit too vague. In the 16th edition of "The critical review or annals of literature by a society of gentleman" in 1796, it describes how Richard Kirwan defines a Mizzle in his "Reflections on Meteorological tables"...

"If the quantity of rain that falls in seven hours be only about half a pound, it is called only a mizzle. If it considerably exceeds one pound, and lasts eight, nine or ten hours, the day is called exceedingly wet..."

We thought Mizzle perfectly suited our New England IPA style. The beer is bright and cloudy - more than a haze, but not completely opaque - and the hoppiness drizzles over your tongue. Neckstamper Mizzle NEIPA is currently only available in keg, but you are likely to find it at one of our favourite pubs.