Historic role of ale taster to return, any takers?

Posted: 11/06/2009

Wellington's historic market has announced it's looking for a candidate to resurrect the ancient (and coveted) role of Ale Taster in the town, a position that disappeared in the early nineteenth century.

In medieval times, ordinary citizens were appointed to oversee and inspect various aspects of everyday life, effectively doing the work of our modern Inspectors of Weights and Measures. Not surprisingly, one of the most popular offices to be held was that of the Ale Taster. His duties involved visiting stalls and inns on market days and during the town's fairs to ensure that the ales, beers and other produce on sale were of good quality.
"Wellington Market was awarded its Charter in 1244, so the Ale Taster would have been a familiar sight right up to the 1840s when the position was phased out" explains Malcolm Ball, chief executive of Wellington Market Company, the organisation responsible for the revival.
He added that he felt that the ancient office would still hold its value even centuries on. "Although the attraction of such a role may seem obvious at first, the 21st Century version would incorporate many more responsibilities than the original. Our Ceremonial Ale Taster would become an ambassador for the promotion of food and drink in the town. Modern tastes have evolved and become so much more sophisticated in recent times and people demand ever greater levels of quality and variety."

"We fully expect this to be reflected in the calibre of applicants.
"The successful candidate will have a sound knowledge and genuine love of food and drink, local expertise in these areas being particularly attractive. He/she must be passionate and vocal about the subject, actively wanting to promote all the town has to offer in a multitude of ways. 
 "It must be stated that although the role is voluntary, it obviously carries benefits!"
Interested parties can find out more at the website www.ale-taster.co.uk 
The submitted entries will be considered by a panel of judges and three lucky shortlisted applicants will be notified and invited to an event in the autumn, at which successful candidate will be chosen. 
The official launch of this search will be held during Wellington's inaugural Food and Drink Tasting Extravaganza, being which is being held on Saturday 13th of June 2009. 

The event, which will take place in Market Approach, off the main Market Square is a celebration of all things relating to taste, whether it be locally produced sparkling wines, cheeses, dry-cure meats or local real ales.

During the event, visitors will be encouraged to try out all of the local produce on offer that includes beers from the Ironbridge Brewery, meats from Maynard's Farm Bacon, wines from Wroxeter Vineyard and a variety of deli items from Lesley's Larder. 
Ball added: "We've spoken to countless local food and drink producers and the one message that we've picked up is that the Telford and Wrekin area needs events such as ours to promote good, locally-produced, food and drink."

"Other parts of the county are renowned for their food and drink events, so with this new initiative, let's hope we can start to put our area on the gastronomic map."
Further information on the event can be found at www.shropshire-flavours.co.uk
(1) Applicants need to submit a short written application – of no more than one A4 page (via email or hard copy) explaining why they would be the best person for the ceremonial role.
Email: info@ale-taster.co.uk
Postal Address:
Ale Taster
Wellington Market Company PLC
21 Market Street
(2) Entry Criteria
The applicants must live in Wellington (Shropshire) or one of the surrounding towns and villages and would need to meet the following criteria:
Be over the age of 18
Have a good knowledge of food and drink – ideally with a local angle… 
Be passionate about the subject
Be an articulate speaker
Be comfortable with speaking to the media and in front of audiences.
Have a smart appearance – in terms of dress, grooming etc.
(3) Judging Panel
The judging panel will consist of the following people:
Malcolm Ball – Chief Executive of Wellington Market Company PLC
Dave Riley – President of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce
Dave Goldingay – Ironbridge Brewery
Lesley Arrowsmith – Proprietor of Lesley's Larder (Wellington Market)
(4) Timescales
It is planned that the following timescales will be used, although the organisers do reserve the right to make changes as required.
Launch - The call for entries will be officially launched on the 13th of June 2009, at the Wellington food and drink tasting event, taking place at the same time as the Midsummer Fayre. 

Closing Date for Entries – Entries must be received by midnight on Monday 13th July 2009. Entries after that time will not be considered.
Judging The judging will take place during the following week and three shortlisted candidates will be contacted shortly after.
Investiture – The final selection and investiture for the new Ceremonial Ale Taster will take place at an event in Wellington, on Saturday 19th September 2009. Details will be announced during the summer.  All three shortlisted candidates will receive a selection of prizes.
Town and Country Markets is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Wellington Market Company Plc, a company whose history can be traced back to its beginnings in 1244 when it was established by a Royal Charter.
The company operates 25 markets throughout the UK and in the year ending 31st December 2008, turned over approximately £7m with around 80 employees.