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Audit Ale
Oxford, Cambridge

A, usually very strong, ale traditionally brewed for the annual 'audit' at colleges of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The ales were formerly produced in college's own brewhouses, but these began to disappear from the beginning of the 19th century to be replaced by bought-in ales. We know from brewery records that in the 1960's the Bass Company produced Audit Ales for the Oxford Colleges of All Souls, Brasenose, Baliol, Christ Church, Lincoln, Magdalen, New College, Nuffield, Oriel, Queens, Trinity, University and Wadham.

Image: http://westerhambrewery.co.uk

The tradition continues with Brasenose Ale in Oxford, and a number of breweries occasionally produce a 'Audit Ale' quite separately from any college tradition.

Bemoaning the decline of 'home brewed', the 'St James's Gazette' on Monday 15 September 1890 had;
"Colleges at the universities brewed their own ale for academic consumption, and took a pride in the celebrity their individual "special brew." Brasenose ale has been official subject for annual poetry by some member of that college whenever Shrove Tuesday comes round, and the various effusions of undergraduate versifiers are compiled and printed for privileged sale and circulation. Trinity (Cambridge) “audit” ale, Merton “archdeacon,” etc., have time-honoured repute; and each year’s brew used to be tabulated and cherished for sale, at prices enhanced with age, retired members of such colleges, who could effect a deal at the buttery for a few bottles of the venerated and venerable tap."

And ... Audit Ale as sustenance for firefighters...

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal - Friday 17 December 1824

Navvy: "Gallon of Audit Ale, Guv'nor, please"
From: 'Punch', September 9th, 1865


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