ALE-CONNER. An ale-conner is an ale-kenner, one who kens or knows what good ale is. The office of ale-taster or ale-conner is one of great antiquity. Those who held it were called " gusta tores cervisise." Ale-conners or ale tasters were regularly chosen every yeaf in the court-leet of each manor, and were sworn to examine and assay the beer and ale, and to take care that they were good and wholesome, and sold at proper prices according to the assize ; and also to pre sent all defaults of brewers to the next court-leet. Similar officers were also ap pointed in boroughs and towns corporate ; and in many places, in compliance with charters or ancient custom, ale-tasters are, at the present day, annually chosen and sworn, though the duties of the office are fallen into disuse. In the manor of Tot tenham, and in many others, it was the duty of the ale-conner to prevent un wholesome or adulterated provisions being offered for sale, and to see that false balances were not used. In 4 Jac. I. c. 5, which was intended for the prevention of drunkenness, the officers more especially charged with presenting offences against the at were constables, churchwardens, head-boroughs, tithing-men, ale-conners, and sidesmen.
The duty of the ale-conners appointed by the corporation of the City of London is to ascertain that the beer sold in the city is wholesome, and that the measures in which it is given are fair. For this purpose they may enter into the houses of all victuallers and sellers of beer within the city. The investigation is made four times in the year ; and on each occasion it occupies about fourteen days. The days are not publiel' known beforehand. Southwark is not visited. The investi gation into the wholesomeness of the article has fallen into disuse. Fairness in the measures is ensured by requiring all puts to be stamped with the city ELMS, and the ale-conners report to the aldermen such houses as do not comply with the rule, and such as have pots with forged stamps. The number of pots annually
stamped in the five years from 1829 to 1833 averaged 5599 dozen. In 1829 there were 760 houses on the ale-conners' lists, and in 1833 there were 780. The Commissioners of Corporation Inquiry state that in some instances the owners of the houses have refused to allow the officers to inspect ; and that " till very recently the visit of the ale-conners to the several houses took place without any inspection being made." Each of the ale-conners has an annual salary of 101. ; and besides this, "either by right or courtesy," they receive a small sum at each house where they visit, varying from 2s. 6d. to Is. The sums given in this way have become smaller, since the duty has been more carefully performed. In the first quarter of 1833 the ale-conners collected 391. 17s.; and in the second quarter, 37/. 10s. 6d. The commissioners state that the income from this source is decreasing. Each ale-conner had, there fore, at the time of the inquiry, a salary of about 351. a year, paid by the City, (Second Report of Commissioners of Cor poration Inquiry,1837.) In the municipal boroughs of England and Wales, to which the inquiries of the commissioners extend ed (234 in number), there were found in twenty-five boroughs officers called " Ale Tasters ;" in six they were termed " AleFounders and in four " Ale-Conners," The ancient regulations which the ale conners were appointed to carry into effect appear to have been dictated by a regard to public health; but in modern times, when ale and beer had become exciseable commodities, the restrictions and provisions introduced from time to time had for their object principally the security of the revenue and the convenient collection of duties. [ADULTERATION.