Did Crowley drink beer?

Home Forums Aleister Crowley Biography Did Crowley drink beer?

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    I can’t recall Crowley ever mentioning drinking beer. As far as i can recall, he mentions every other conceivable alcoholic drink, but never beer or ale.

    Of course, much of his life and activities were bound up with a very forced performance of being a “gentleman” (which of course he wasn’t, quite). Like many social climbers, he was careful to avoid any signifiers of being middle-class, or (horrors!) working class. My understanding is that drinking beer was a very strong class signifier (of working class-ness) during his lifetime in the UK.

    He also hated his parents, and was probably loathe to have anyone think his money came from “trade” from those Crowley’s Ales pubs, rather than being “old money” from land rents like a real gentleperson.

    As one who eschews “sweet wines”, and can seldom afford “wines that foam”, and brews his own ale, i would be delighted to learn i am mistaken about this, and that AC actually enjoyed “The Beverage of Civilization” (as my anthro professor used to call it). The ancient Egyptians of course drank beer, but not wine- one would think this would have counted for something with such an Egyptophile.

    • This topic was modified 6 days, 22 hours ago by  ignant666.

    Jamie J Barter

    I don’t think he recorded the specific act of quaffing ale in his records or the Confessions, but he was no stranger to occasionally frequenting pubs in London (such as The Fitzroy Tavern in Fitzrovia – a stone’s throw from my girlfriend’s place, incidentally) and it’s possible though unlikely he would have stuck to imbibing “shorts” throughout a protracted session. I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t have been too bothered about the ‘class’ perception and let that get in the way of a good old proper booze-up either – one example of which was on the night before the dedication of his The Equinox of the Gods at Cleopatra’s needle, at which he and at least 6 accomplices were recorded as having been on an all-night bender immediately prior to the ceremony at sunrise. Unless he had a specific dislike for and antipathy towards the beverage, I would have thought it unlikely he wouldn’t have supped a pint of the amber nectar during that sesh at least

    Yr very good health & bottoms up!
    Norma N Joy Conquest

    PS Also wouldn’t lager have been the most excellent accompaniment to wash down his fiercesomely hot fiery curries with?

    • This reply was modified 6 days, 20 hours ago by  Jamie J Barter.
    • This reply was modified 6 days, 20 hours ago by  Jamie J Barter. Reason: curry afterthought

    Serpent 252

    Great topic, ignant666. Now, AC had written

    “People spoke to me, people whose experience and judgment in all matters of Sacrifice to Dionysus had my very fullest assent and admiration; they told me that of all drinks, the best was Beer. So I have wanted for many years to drink it. I can’t. I once tasted a few drops on the end of a teaspoon. They told me that wasn’t quite the same thing!”

    (Magick Without Tears, Chapter XLIX: Thelemic Morality)

    (On Hermetic here: https://hermetic.com/crowley/magick-without-tears/mwt_49)



    It is interesting to note that ‘beer’ appears as an hieroglyph on the table on the Stele of Revealing, and yet none of the translations of the Stele, during Crowley’s lifetime, include it as part of the translation.



    There’s an account of him visiting pubs in The Confessions, I know this because he laments that working class men were apes only good for belching fumes of alcohol into the ceilings, something like that. I think this must have been in his student days.



    Thanx to all, especially Serpent 252.

    I think both the MWOT quote, and david’s recollection of the Hag passage, tend to support my “class panic” idea- drinking beer was a marker of being not a “gentlemen”, and so AC avoided beer.

    Going to pubs may have been the equivalent of going to the zoo for AC- a chance to observe, and mock, his social “inferiors”, with their pints.



    Crowley mentioned beer dozens of times in his published output. A few examples:

    ‘Magick is a Pyramid, built layer by layer. The work of the Body of Light — with the technique of Yoga — is the foundation of the whole. One’s apprehension of the Astral Plane must be accurate, for Angels, Archangels, and Gods are derived therefrom by analysis. One must have pure materials if one wishes to brew pure beer.’ — Magick in Theory and Practice

    ‘On the other, when it comes to excitement or amusement, we see perspiring brutes belching the fumes of beer; course, ugly parodies of apes. Nature affords no parallel to their degradation.’ — Confessions, cap. 13

    ‘The author was a pompous, ignorant and affected dipsomaniac from America, and he treated his subject with the vulgarity of Jerome K. Jerome, and the beery, leering frivolity of a red-nosed music-hall comedian making jokes about mothers-in-law and lodgers.’ — Confessions, cap. 14

    ‘I have never drunk beer in my life’ — Magick Without Tears, cap. 57

    ‘Now will somebody tell me why in the name of all that’s inappropriate they built a thieves’ kitchen, a beggar’s boozing- ken, a cads’ cradle, a dumping-ground for all the lousy, spavined, ring- wormed, scrofulous, soapless, paper-collared, dicky-wearing, frayed- trousered, dusty-bowlered, tooth-brushless, frowsty, fuggy, onanizing, cheesy, onion-smelling, lantern-jawed, pi-inclined, lecture-keeping, hockey-playing, tub-pushing, beer-squiffy, syphilophobic, landlady’s- daughter-cuddling, pseudo-blood, Union-haunting, Ciccu-jawing, mongrel-breeding, Math-Trip-mugging, oak- sporting, penny-nap- playing, Fabian, don-frequenting, stinks-stewing, proggings-fearing, touts next door?’ — Not the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam



    Thank you, Paul, for these many mentions i’ve forgotten- i think we can now agree that AC was very firmly anti-beer, and never drank it.

    I think we also see ample evidence that this was because beer-drinking was incompatible with his assumed status as a “gentleman”.

    On a most likely unrelated issue, what on earth can be meant by “pi-inclined”? Do we think he thought the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is a matter of opinion or choice?

    Off to get “beer-squiffy” (well, i may wait a bit as it’s 9:30am here), yours truly,

    Yet Another Pompous, Ignant And Affected Dipsomaniac From America

    • This reply was modified 6 days, 3 hours ago by  ignant666.


    Note how Crowley’s favourite people Anglo-Saxons (ha!) tend to drink beer (the word ‘lager’ is derived from the German verb ‘to store’) but the Mediterranean southern European countries tend to drink wine. Derive from that what ye will.



    This is a remarkably foolish post, david. It is both 1) factually wrong, and 2) in any case, a rather pointless and banal observation even if you were correct.

    As to #1: Can you provide even one example of Crowley saying something positive about “Anglo-Saxons”? Crowley spent a great deal of time pretending to be a Celt of some sort, perhaps an Irishman, or sometimes a Scotsman swanning around in kilts, rather than what he actually was, an Anglo-Saxon Englishman.

    As to #2: You are correct that the wine/beer divide is an important cultural marker in Europe, with northern countries preferring beer, and southern countries preferring wine. The beer-drinking countries tend to have houses with doors and windows that face the outside, while the wine-drinking countries tend to have houses with doors and windows that open into a central court. The beer-drinking countries are mostly Protestant, while the wine-drinking countries are mostly Catholic. The beer-drinking countries are colder, while the wine-drinking countries are warmer. Many such correlations exist. So what?
    On refection, i realize that perhaps your parenthetical “ha!” indicates that you are aware of point #1, but were attempting to be clever, which still leaves me baffled by the point of your post.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 20 hours ago by  ignant666.


    They say Americans don’t get irony. AC was open about his hatred for Anglo-Saxons and his fondness for Latin cultures. So what? So the abuse of beer drinking is a massive problem in the UK related to bad health and public disorder problems. Just saying. Google the term “lager lout”.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 11 hours ago by  dom.
    • This reply was modified 4 days, 11 hours ago by  dom.
    • This reply was modified 4 days, 11 hours ago by  dom.
    • This reply was modified 4 days, 11 hours ago by  dom.
    • This reply was modified 4 days, 11 hours ago by  dom. Reason: Grammar


    You are correct- Americans are incapable of understanding irony, or of perpetrating it.

    However, i have been taking special lessons, so i was able to “get” your very clever remark, as my edit indicates. I, having, through my special “how to understand clever ironic remarks by Brits” lessons, twigged your very clever use of irony, pointed out that you were making a rather well-known point, and not really contributing to the “conversation” here. Perhaps your point was that his avoiding beer was an effort to pose as being more Latin, and less British?

    Are these “lager louts” you mention mostly very upper-class folks, or would that be more of a class slur on working-class youth, perpetrated by wine-drinking middle-, and upper-class, oldsters?

    Right- it is a class slur on the drinking preferences of working-class youth, which comes back to my point: Crowley eschewed beer as a part of his performance of being a claret-drinking “gentleman”, and not the son of a brewery-owner.


    Michael Staley


    A joy to read.



    There you go, looks like I was on topic all along after all. I was wondering what crawled up your ass.

    Guardian readers used to say that Britain’s main export was it’s football hooliganism which was pretty much fueled by lager. Mind you the same folk now can’t get enough of soccer watching ever since the multinational companies poured a lot of their funds into the game due to tv satellite channel footage.

    • This reply was modified 4 days, 5 hours ago by  dom.
    • This reply was modified 4 days, 5 hours ago by  dom.

    Michael Staley


    Guardian readers used to say that Britain’s main export was it’s football hooliganism which was pretty much fueled by lager.

    I’ve been a Guardian reader since the 1970s, and I’ve never said that. Nor am I aware of it being a widespread view amongst my fellow Guardianistas. Since the Guardian has a strong football section, I think it unlikely that the view you describe is widespread.

    Idiot sheets such as the Daily Mail, though, do love to perpetuate such a view.

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