Raise your glasses to the new Benedict Goodale. Paul Boswell has just been appointed to the prestigious post of Ale Taster for the Cheshire town of Congleton, a post which has been in existence since 1272. Boswell, formerly employed in the brewing and pub industry for 35 years, took the oath in a ceremony held in the Beartown Tap in Willow Street.
The position of ale taster, which he will hold for a year, was one of four that the town was allowed to appoint under the charter granted to it in 1272. The others were mayor, town crier, and catchpole, a form of debt collector.
The role was a combination of trading standards and weights and measures, designed to ensure that ingredients of the correct type and quality were being used and that the citizens were not being overcharged for their ale. His powers are now ceremonial, no longer able to levy fines on errant publicans or even send them to the stocks or to jail.
Still, it is good to see some customs maintained. Cheers!