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The origins of English beer names - Betty Stogs

Updated on August 14, 2012

Betty stogs - bottle label

The charming Betty Stogs
The charming Betty Stogs

Betty Stogs

Betty Stogs

Skinner’s brewery, Cornwall 4.0% ABV, 50cl,

Available in branches of Waitrose and Tesco branches, mainly in the south-west and also available from the brewery. £1.95

Skinner's is an independent family brewery that was founded in July 1997 when Steve Skinner moved to Truro in Cornwall from Jersey. The brewery is by the river in the picturesque city of Truro, the capital of Cornwall and the brewery produce award winning ales including Betty Stogs, Cornish Knocker, Ginger Tosser and Heligan Honey using only Cornish barley grown on 3 farms just a short distance from the brewery.

Betty Stogs is the most decorated ale in Cornwall and the South West, in recent years named CAMRA Champion Best Bitter of Great Britain and Supreme Champion of Cornwall.

In the "high countries" of Cornwall, as the parishes of Morva, Zennor, and Towednack are called, lived Betty Stogs who was renowned for being lazy. “Stogs” was only a nickname; it was given to her because she was so untidy about her feet and legs; she couldn't darn a hole in her stocking and Betty was always pulling the legs of her stockings down under her feet so that the holes in her heels were hidden, causing the tops to come under the garter.

Betty was an only child and Betty's drunken mother who was herself a wretchedly dirty woman was desperate to see her only daughter married. She offered a large dowry as she knew that this was the only way she would find a suitor for her slovenly and unattractive daughter. Jan "The Mounster" (monster) started wooing Betty and after a short engagement Betty’s mother agreed to increase the dowry Betty and Jan were married.

Less than a year later a baby was born; however, the poor child had no cradle, only a "costan" (a straw and bramble basket). Betty went about pretending to sell crochet-work, but in reality she was selling gin, (when she wasn’t drinking it herself), which she kept in a bottle under the dirty rags and the baby's only companion was usually the family cat. It greatly concerned everyone except Betty to see the baby so dirty. "Towednack is a windy place an' cold, "she always said "A good layer of dirt will keep 'n warm."

One day Betty was in a "courseying" mood, and went from house to house, wherever she could find a woman idle enough to gossip with her and share a glass of gin. When she finally arrived home she didn't hear the child and thought it had cried itself to sleep. Eventually she looked in the costan, and the child was gone. Betty frantically searched everywhere, well aware that Jan, her husband, was due home from the Bal mine any time soon. She told Jan that his "Croom of a chield was lost" and he went and called up all the neighbours who joined him in the search

The search for the baby went on throughout the night; every croft, each bush and bank was searched without success.

As the sun rose the cat came into the house running back and forth, constantly crying, as if she wished the people to follow her. They followed the cat and in the middle of the furze-brake, on a beautiful green, soft spot of mossy grass they found the baby sleeping, wrapped carefully in an old dry gown. The furze was high all around, so that no cold wind could reach the infant and every one declared that the child had never looked so handsome. The old women said that the Small People had taken the child and washed it from top to toe, but their task of cleansing the babe was a long one that the sun had risen before they could finish it and they had intended to take it away the next night.

Betty had learned her lesson and thereafter she cared for the child as devotedly as the Small People had done themselves; the cottage was kept tidy and his father and mother drank less and they all lived happily ever after.


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