Thursday, January 19, 2012

The celebration that never was

It's long been traditional in Britain for breweries to prepare special batches of 'Coronation beer' or 'Coronation ale' when a new king or queen is formally crowned. Such a batch was prepared for the coronation of Edward VIII, which, of course, never took place, because he abdicated the throne to international scandal in 1936 to marry a divorcée, Wallis Simpson.

The Daily Mail takes up the story.

A stock of ale brewed 75 years ago to celebrate the coronation of Edward VIII, but never released for sale because of his abdication, has been discovered in a bricked-up cellar.

The Coronation Ale was set to be sold around Britain to commemorate Edward VIII's coronation - planned for the anniversary of the king’s first year on the throne in January 1937.

But the 2,000 bottles of celebration ale never saw the light of day because Edward abdicated just a month before in December 1936 to marry American twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.

The tipple then lay undiscovered for decades until workman found it in a bricked up cellar after being called in to replace a floor at the 200-year-old Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Expert brewer John Bexon, 53, sampled the vintage ale - and revealed it has kept 'really well'.

He said: 'This really would have been a fantastic beer in its day, it was 12 per cent when it was brewed so is quite strong and has kept really well.

'The rich fruit flavour still stands out and you can see a clear ring around the top of the beer when you look at it through the glass, rather like you might see on a vintage port or wine.'

. . .

John, who has been in the brewery industry for 35 years, said it was impossible to put a price on the ale but said it could be of real value to beer buffs or collectors.

He said: 'We’ve brewed beer on the same site in Suffolk for over 200 years and there is a network of cellars under the brewery which means there could be more vintage beers just waiting to be re-discovered.'

There's more at the link, including pictures of the beer.

Hmm . . . a beer with 12% alcohol content - 24 proof? It's nowhere near as potent as 'The End Of History', which at a full 110 proof (!) is the world's strongest beer; but nevertheless, I'd like to try it. Since they've just managed to recreate Shackleton's 100-year-old whisky, I wonder whether some enterprising brewer would like to try something similar with this Coronation ale?


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