Bass and Co. Pale Ale

Friday, October 19, 2001

For my next trick while drink beer alone at my laptop, I will consider the label of the Bass and Co. Pale Ale that’s sitting in front of me. I drank it — my third of the evening — while talking on the phone. Yeah, possibly the first time I’ve even gotten myself tipsy while talking on the phone. Maturity. Anyway, the label of a bottle of Bass has on it, as you might know, a large red equilateral triangle with the text “England’s First Registered Trademark” underneath it. I’d noticed the triangle many time before, but I’d never noticed the text.

What does this mean? It’s a stark red triangle, which triggers strange thoughts of secret symbols and secret societies in my brain… If Bass first got brewed in 1777, as the label says, the trademark couldn’t have been much farther behind, right? Thinking about this triangle and this text could shed some interesting light on the subjects of beer business and British trademark laws in the 19th century. Fascinating. Let’s go to the web, shall we?

The Bass website ( says:

“In these days of logos and symbols, it is interesting that the label incorporating the world-famous Bass Red Triangle — originally a shipping mark — is the worldís oldest registered trademark. On the eve of the Trade Marks Registration Act of 1875 going into effect, it is said that a loyal member of the Bass staff spent an uncomfortable night on the steps of the registrarís office to ensure that the label with the red triangle — which had already been used officially by the company since 1855 — would hold the coveted No.1 place. And despite some reported jostling in the hall that morning, he also managed to take the No. 2 registration with the Bass red diamond, traditionally associated with Burton Ale, and No. 3 for the brown diamond of Porter and Extra Stout.”

I don’t think the information I’m going to find on the web will go much deeper, but it’s interesting to have a little glimpse behind the history of the beer. It’s good, I think, when beer bottles have little clues and interesting bits of history on them — gives you something to think about if you’re drinking alone like my lame ass is — but I think there should be more. I want a beer with text and interesting information written all over it, like those bars of Dr. Bronner’s soap. Anyway.