Juice of Barley

wood cut of a man drinking from a tankard

From Catchpenny Prints, Bowles and Carver, London, first published in the late 1780s

This is a drinking song about beer. There are a number of versions of the song, with various titles (such as "A Cup of Old Stingo") and some with numerous verses. The tune was also used for dancing and was first printed in The English Dancing Master, a collection of dances compiled by John Playford in 1651. The tune goes by a number of titles, such as "Oyle of Barle," "Oyle of Stingo," and "Stingo," all referring to beer. The tune was also used for non-drinking songs such as "Cold and Raw, the North Wind did Blow," "Lulle Me Beyond Thee," and "p in the Morning Early," all composed in the late 17th century.

Instrumentation: soprano recorder, hammered dulcimer, voice


There's a lusty liquor which
Good fellows use to take-o;
It is distilled with Nard most rich,
And water of the lake-o,
Of hop a little quantity,
And barm to it they bring too;
Being barrell'd up, they call't a cup
Of good old dainty stingo.

'Twill make a constable over see
Sometimes to serve a warrant;
'Twill make a bailiff lose his fee,
Though he be a knave-arrrant;
'Twill make a lawyer, though that he
To ruin oft men brings, too,
Sometime forget to take his fee
If his head be lin'd with stingo

Be merry my friends, and list a while
Unto a merry jest,
It may from you produce a smile,
When you heare it exprest:
Of a young man lately married,
Which was a boone good fellow;
This song in's head he always carried,
When drink made him mellow.
I cannot go home, nor I will not go home,
It's 'long of the oyle of Barly,
I'le tarry all night for my delight,

And go home in the morning early.


barm- a yeast used in making beer or bread; it produces a foam or "head" on beer
knave-arrant- an utterly untrustworthy or dishonest villain or rogue
nard- an ointment
stingo- strong beer