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Sir Robert Wiser Day


Once upon a time in the small town of Canterbury, there lived a mead maker named Robert Wiser.  He became known throughout all of England for his mead.  When the king learned of the wonderful mead Robert Wiser made, the king asked him to make special batches just for the court, and so he did.  The king was so delighted that he knighted Robert Wiser and declared that the fourteenth day of the eleventh month should be named after him and that everybody should drink only mead on that day.  And so it came to pass that November fourteenth was called Sir Robert Wiser Day.

Sir Robert was given a small castle on the outskirts of Canterbury under the condition that he continue to make mead for the king’s court.  And Sir Robert was very happy to do that.

In due course, he married a local squire’s daughter, and they lived happily in the small castle.  Over a period of several years his wife gave him three children. Two daughters and then finally a son.  Sir Robert decided to name his son after himself.  He declared that the boy was destined for great things, including being as good a mead maker as his father – if that were possible.

At the tender age of six, little Robert was introduced to the process of making mead, and by the time he was sixteen he was as good as his father.  But young Robert was not happy following in his father’s footsteps and being in his father’s shadow.  He wanted to strike out on his own. 

And so he looked around for something different he could make. He looked first at the making of wine, a drink that had recently been introduced into England.  He managed to finagle a trip to France from his father and spent a year there learning all about the making of wine.  But when he returned to England, he realized that the climate was too cold for growing grapes – at least the kind of grapes that would produce a wine as fine as what he’d tasted in France.  And so he gave up the idea of being a famous vintner. 

“You could always be a mead maker and a wine importer,” his father pointed out, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy young Robert Wiser.

So then he turned his attention to another drink that had been around England for many years – a crude peasant drink, which the local people referred to as “slop”, and slop it was.  Robert shuddered remembering the one time he had tried it.  What if, Robert thought, he could make a “slop” fit for the king?  Then he, too, could become well-known in his own right – to step out from behind his father’s shadow.

And so, he finagled another trip from his father – this time to the land of the Teutons, where it was rumored that a better quality of “slop” was made.  Robert spent a year with the Teutons learning the trade of making “bier” as they pronounced it.  Right away, Robert realized that he would have to change the spelling as he realized that his countrymen would either pronounce it “bier” as in “funeral bier,” or as “Bierre” as in the French word ”Pierre”.  And so he planned to call his beverage simply “beer.”

At the end of the year, Robert returned to Canterbury where he convinced his father to give him a few acres of meadowland to grow the malt and hops he needed to brew his own beer.  Needless to say, his father was very pleased with Robert’s first batch (made the Teutonic way) and pronounced it quite a relief from the too-sweet mead.  The local peasants were more than ready to give up their slop for some of Robert’s beer, and so in and around Canterbury, pubs began to spring up to sell the beer that Robert made.

But Robert couldn’t keep up with the demand.  He needed more money and more land to increase his production.  His father couldn’t help him as by now there were five more little Wisers.  And so young Robert made two special batches and carried them to the king for him to sample.  To make a long story short, the king was delighted with Robert’s beer, especially after Robert pointed out that it was the drink of royalty.  The king did give Robert a large tract of land to grown his malt and hops on.  In exchange, Robert was to deliver to the king such quantities of beer as he demanded.  The king told him that he was also interested in trying other types of beer if Robert was willing to experiment.  Robert agreed..

After a year, the king was so pleased with Robert’s beer that he summoned him to London to bestow knighthood on him, just as he had his father.

“I would like to give you a day just as I did for your father.  What day would you choose?”

“My father has the fourteenth day of November. Would you grant me the fourteenth day of October? We can celebrate by drinking all the beer we want..”

“Granted,” said the king.  “But there is a problem.  You are both called Sir Robert Wiser now.  How will the people know whether Sir Robert Wiser Day refers to your father, the mead maker, or you, the beer maker?”

“Hmm,” said Robert, and he thought for a few minutes.  Then his face brightened.  “Instead of referring to me as Sir Robert Wiser, why don’t you just name my day after my childhood nickname.  Bud.”


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