from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A provision of ale or strong beer formerly drunk in the spring of the year. The signal for broaching it seems to have been the first cry of the cuckoo.


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  • Ale drunk out of doors to welcome the cuckoo's return.

    A singular custom prevails in Shropshire at this period of the year spring, which is peculiar to that county. as soon as the first cuckoo has been heard, all the labouring classes leave work, if in the middle of the day, and time is devoted to mirth and jollity over what has been called the Cuckoo Ale.

    John Brand, Observations on Popular Antiquities, 1813

    February 4, 2009