Pub poet’s ode to spaniel who likes bevvy if it’s heavy

Brachan the Cocker Spaniel who drinks Beer at the "Ormelie Tavern" in Joppa with owner Phil McCrossan
Brachan the Cocker Spaniel who drinks Beer at the "Ormelie Tavern" in Joppa with owner Phil McCrossan
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WHILE you might expect your average real ale drinker to sport a sagging paunch and an abundance of facial hair – four legs and a waggy tail might come as more of a surprise.

But Bracken the ale-loving spaniel and her discerning palate have become so renowned at a Joppa pub that they have been immortalised in verse.

Eight-year-old Bracken is a familiar face at the Ormelie Pub in Joppa, where she can often be seen enjoying the hair of the dog.

A comedy poem, written by pub regular George Robertson, describes how Bracken only has time for quality ale.

It suggests the beer-drinking canine could even qualify as a beer judge for the Campaign for Real Ale.

The ditty has been entertaining pub goers at the Ormelie, where it has gone on display in the gents’ toilets.

Bracken’s owner Phil McCrossan, 58, who runs the nearby Joppa Turrets guesthouse along with his wife Anne, said: “I was a regular at the Ormelie for a period – I used to go there with a friend, who has since died.

“Bracken was very interested in real beer, just like my friend was – he was a real beer buff – and he would give her the beer.

“She wouldn’t actually get anything to drink, but she would demonstrate a great deal of interest in real beer and get some dregs from the bottom of the glass.

“She didn’t have any interest in lager at all, obviously she had good taste.”

About three months ago, Phil was presented with a copy of the poem by Rab Cowan, a mutual friend of the poem’s author.

“I don’t know the person who has written the poem,” said Mr McCrossan.

“It’s very amusing and I’m really pleased it’s been written about Bracken. There’s obviously been a bit of artistic licence, with her gender having been changed to male.

“People in the guest house were always asking to have their picture taken with her so she’s obviously very photogenic – with or without beer.”

The poem is to feature in the next issue of the licensed trade magazine, Pints of View.

Jackie Urquhart, assistant manager of the Ormelie, said: “Bracken is a gorgeous dog. She didn’t get much beer, she just likes to steal a wee sup.

“Everybody would come and speak to her but she was more interested in the staff, because they had biscuits.

“It’s just a wee joke poem really, but it’s proven really popular.

I have had to make copies for people. One of them is being sent over to Canada.”


In Portobello by the sea

At Joppa stands the Ormelie.

A public house high on that list,

To chase away thon nagging thirst,

The salty spray that fills the air,

Dries the throat and guides you there;

To let the liquid moist the lips,

Bringing comfort, as down it slips.

Now in this bar, I’ve heard the tale,

of a picky mutt that knows his ale;

Bracken is the canine’s name,

Who knows about the brewing game.

He shall slurp and wag his happy tail

When one gives him Cask Conditioned Ale;

Please never give him meagre keg,

Or he’ll stare at you and cock a leg.

This loyal friend, this faithful pet,

May be elevated yet;

CAMRA could, with no real fear,

Promote him as a judge of beer.

So if one’s found down Joppa way,

And a thirsty throat is out to play,

Go slurp some ale, have a few,

With the dog who knows about his brew.

George Robertson