Thursday, July 3, 2014

Drinking after Tolkien

Helen Young posted a link to the Society's Facebook feed not long ago. The link connects to information about the Hobbit Pub in Southampton--something of decided interest to the Society for obvious reasons. Having the Hobbit Pub pointed out also brought to mind Bilbo's Pizza in a Pan, one of the attractions frequented by those who find their way to Kalamazoo for the International Congress on Medieval Studies (at which the Society will have two events; keep looking here for more details). It also brought to mind one of several pubs called the Green Dragon, specifically the one in Matamata, New Zealand, which is included in the Hobbiton tours of the movies' filming locations. And those several establishments beg the question of authenticity in "medieval" pubs and taverns.

There is, of course, something of the timeless in sitting with a pint or two of ale, lager, or cider, having a hot bite to eat, and occasionally joining in a bit of song and dance. And it is, of course, the case that modern health standards and brewing practices are quite removed from the medieval--and even the less medieval environment of the hobbits (mentioned here). What would be needed to investigate the authenticity of the various establishments involved would be to visit each (a hardship, certainly), determine the milieu it seeks to emulate, and then simply compare features. I have only been to Bilbo's, and I have enjoyed it each time I have been. But as a mimicry of Tolkien's Shire or even of Bree, it lacks. While I have no doubt the hobbits would enjoy pizza and the beer brewed by the establishment (as I very much do), I think the portion sizes likely a bit small for them. Too, the architecture is a bit off; too little is round, and none of it is doors or windows.

Still, the idea of going from establishment to establishment, traveling the world to see the places and eat and drink of their offerings before writing up each and using those write-ups to identify major trends in the re/presentation of the medieval among drinking places intrigues. How funding for such a thing could be acquired...


  1. The National Endowment for the Humanities? Fullbright? A super-weathly uncle?

  2. Perhaps an immense collaborative project, with small pieces taken on by those in such circumstances as you suggest.