The description of the Company arms as established in 1544 and shown above is:
Gules on a chevron engrailed argent three kilderkins sable hooped or between three pairs of barley garbs in saltire of the same.
There seem to be two very minor variations in the way the arms are described, in some sources though they mean in effect the same: ‘sheaves’ can be used instead of ‘garbs’ and ‘tuns’ can be used instead of ‘kilderkins’.
This is the essential coat-of-arms, but it can be embellished with mantling and a crest as shown and described below:
Upon the helm on a torse argent and azure a demi morien in her proper colour vested azure fretted argent the hair or holding in either hand three barley ears of the same mantled sable doubled argent
The torse refers to the silver and blue wreath on which the demi morien is placed. The legend relating to the dark skinned, flaxen haired demi morien and why she is incorporated in the coat of arms relates to the Company’s patron saint, Thomas Becket. The connection with Thomas Becket is demonstrated in the Company’s first grant of arms (not shown) in 1468 when Becket’s Arms are impaled with those of the Company. When Henry VIII broke with Rome and declared himself head of the new Church of England the Brewers had to introduce a more subtle reference to their Catholic Patron Saint. Legend has it that Becket’s father, Gilbert, a London merchant, was taken prisoner by pirates while on a trading expedition off the North African coast. He was helped to escape by a Moorish maiden who fell in love with him, followed him to London and later married him, becoming Thomas’ stepmother. How much truth there is in this tale is impossible to tell but it is known that after the death of his first wife Gilbert Becket married a girl from the South of France.
As some of the terms are somewhat technical it is worth noting that in heraldry colours are:
gules = red
sable = black
azure = blue
and metals are:
or = gold
argent = silver
The silver lines on the chevron on the shield are not straight, this particular type of wavy line is known as engrailed.