Explanation of the Day

“Nut brown ale does not contain any nuts.”

OTOH, for everybody who keeps claiming that “nut brown skin” and “nut brown hair” are descriptions of black people in medieval England… the brewery describes nut brown ale as being “dark amber” in color. Basically, it’s beer-colored; it’s just a slightly deeper reddish brownish yellow. So anybody with a decent tan, or someone with reddish blondish brown hair (as opposed to mouse or dark brown). Clearly the nut in question wasn’t a walnut, because “walnut” is a separate descriptor, associated with walnut shells and walnut-stained hands.

I can’t help you with “brown as a berry,” but apparently juniper and cedar berries are brown.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Explanation of the Day

  1. I’ve got a cousin that turned out looking classic black Irish– his skin is nut brown.

    Oak nut.

    One of the pale ones….

    Which does, indeed, capture both the color of the ale and the color of the skin.

    He’s paler than those of my kids who got the Italian coloration, until everybody gets some sun.

  2. Interesting: “a slightly deeper reddish brownish yellow”…so, would a “nut-brown sword” (as heard in “Johnny Armstrong” and a couple of other ballads) be one that was used on someone and not cleaned?

  3. Mary

    Juniper berries are blue. (At least the variety in my neighborhood.)

  4. Re: brown swords — Some people think this means they have a brown gleam. I think it’s a descriptor that goes back to bronze swords, or that it’s talking about various iron coloring agents. There’s a “rust bluing” process that uses acid and then boiling water, for instance. But I don’t know that anybody knows for sure.

    The current Middle English best guess is that it means “polished”, because “broun stiel” and various brown swords show up a lot. But a brounsmith was a smith who worked with copper, bronze, and brass.

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