Lord Nelson Three Sheets

Prologue:  It was Friday so in the media industry this means one thing. Lunch at a pub. We had ventured further than our usual haunts of South Melbourne. In fact we had set forth to the previously unheard of lands, North of the Yarra.

To the Spencer Hotel we headed, seated with the ‘best of’ collection of my peeps for what I hoped to be a best of selection of foodstuffs and hoppy goodness.

I tried to order the ‘West Melbourne Draught’ as I can only assume this is a beer available only at The Spencer and thus worthy of my attention as a beer wanker. Alas they were out.

I turned instead to the Lord Nelson Three Sheets.  

First expression: After what felt like an eternity, but was most likely five minutes, the bottle arrived at the table. It looked English, but was Australian, like a guy in Manchester United shirt but with good teeth.  

Appearance: Three Sheets is a pale ale, it was quite light in colour, with a yeasty cloudy-ness.

Packaging:  There is a lot going on in this label, it was as complicated as a $20 note, there is a coat of arms A lion, a unicorn, a picture of Lord Nelson, two different mottos, some nautical flags and a  little dude knocking out some semaphore. If my 3 hours as a member of the 4th Mordialloc Sea Scouts has taught me anything he is spelling VICTORY.

Taste:.This is a great beer, It had a full body with slight bitterness. I felt I could taste the yeast, although maybe that was the bread I was eating with it. All in all it was smooth and velvety with a nice mouth feel.

Food suggestion: The huge resources of the brewer’s nose, my own experience and the waiter told me the perfect dish would be lamb. In fact I ordered a slow roasted lamb shoulder to go with it, but alas the service at The Spencer was ordinary on this particular day so I’d finished the beer before the little lamby arrived.  

Random made up Reader’s question: We all know that being ‘Three Sheets to the wind’ means being smashed, you know singing sea shanty songs, making puppy dog jokes but where does ‘Three sheets to the wind’ come from?

To understand this phrase we need to enter the arcane world of nautical terminology. Firstly sheets aren’t sails, as us landlubbers might expect, rather they are  ropes (or occasionally, chains). These are fixed to the lower corners of sails, to hold them in place.

If three sheets are loose and blowing about in the wind then the sails will flap and the boat will lurch about like a drunken sailor.

The phrase is these days more often given as ‘three sheets to the wind’, rather than the original ‘three sheets in the wind’. The earliest printed citation is in Pierce Egan’s Real Life in London, 1821:

“Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.”

Sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness (smart sailors); three sheets was the falling over stage; tipsy was just ‘one sheet in the wind’. An example appears in the novel The Fisher’s Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824:

“Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure.”

In a word: Arghhh, me hearties

6 degrees of Norm: Where we link every beer back to George Wendt (Norm from Cheers)

1.    Lord Nelson’s first name was Hoartio

2.    As is David Caruso’s character in ‘CSI Miami’

3.    Who was also in ‘Hudon Hawk’ with Bruce Willis

4.    Who was the voice of the kid in ‘Look who’s Talking’

5.    Which also starred Kirstie Alley

6.    Who played Rebecca Howe in Cheers and served beer to Norm.

Ranking:  I’ll have a Pint thanks.


3 thoughts on “Lord Nelson Three Sheets

  1. Next time you are in Sydney, you’ve got to go to the source of Three Sheets – the Lord Nelson Hotel. Everything is good there – but Nelson’s Blood is the bomb.

  2. Pingback: The Hottest 100 (Beers) « A Great Set of Tipples

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