Lunchtime pint…or is it?

In the museum there is a gallery called the ‘Skill and Labour Gallery’. It exhibits Blackburn’s history and prominant figures. In this gallery there is a huge banner from Mrs Lewis’ temperance mission. Mrs Lewis was very proactive in her campaigns and was involved with different council boards to try and stop the amount of alcohol being consumed in Blackburn. It is worth remembering that this was during a time of heavy industry when cotton was king. The working class man (and woman) would be at work before dawn and would come home when it was dark. After such a long and extremely tiring day many men would head to the pub to relax.

The banner is not the subject of the blog. It just so happens that I noticed it on a monday morning after I had visited a beer festival at the weekend. The banner tries to convince of the evils of alcohol with the words ‘strong drink is raging’ and the word ‘Death’ under a barrel. So, what were your options if you were part of the temperance movement? The answer is a temperance bar. These bars, while not as popular as pubs, would serve a wide range of herbal beers and soft drinks such as dandelion and burdock and sarsparilla. Considering the popularity of my previous historical roadtest with the clogs I decided to do another one and headed to Blackburn Market for a glass of sarsparilla. Walsh’s, the store that sells them, is a family run business dating back to 1835. The store brews its own mixture and pours the glass from a proper pump.

Me with Keeper of Social History, Nick Harling, ready to enjoy a glass

Me with Keeper of Social History, Nick Harling, ready to have a glass

So what is sarsparilla? It is a herb beer which contains no alcohol. The big question is…What does it taste like? Having heard stories of it being not particularly nice I found it to be a very enjoyable drink. The texture was lighter than the impression the dark colour gives. It tastes fruity like a stout or a mild would but the flavour is not overpowering.

It was that tasty I finished it in one go!

Did I like it? Yes and I would suggest anyone in Blackburn’s 3 day market stop for a glass as well.

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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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