“Give my people plenty of beer, good beer and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among
them” – Queen Victoria
Well, like our current monarch, her reign may have had its turbulent moments but
Queen Victoria obviously knew what she was talking about. In an era marked by
revolutions, her reign lasted longer than any other in British history. Up
until now, Queen Victoria was the only monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee.
And while it may be stretching it a bit to say that having plenty of good cheap beer
was the one and only reason, the Victorian era was notable for brewing
innovations, the number of pubs and the quantity of beer imbibed (not to
mention long opening hours!).
So, this weekend celebrates the second time in British history that a sovereign
has been on the throne for sixty years. And, like the Victorian age, the second
Elizabethan age has not seen revolutions or violent social upheavals like so
many countries (the only Red Revolution in Britain was an advertising campaign
by Watneys). After all, it is a bit hard to harbour violent feelings after sharing a
delicious pint or two at the bar of your local with friends and/or strangers and
putting the world to rights.
And although the mighty British Empire ruled by Queen Victoria is long gone
and things do look a bit gloomy there are things to be grateful for. To start with
we are not in the Euro! A British football team (Chelsea) beat the Germans
(Bayern Munich) to win the European Cup! And we are hosting the Olympics
(pity I did not get Beach Volleyball tickets)…
On a more serious note, although beer may not be cheap and the number of
pubs may have declined from Victorian levels, the quality and range of beers
now on offer is better than ever. So, what to do?
Keep Calm and Celebrate…
Only problem is that there is so much choice that is hard to choose. There
are events such as the Thames River Procession involving a thousand boats or
local events like street parties. But what I suggest is finding out what is going
on at your local pubs. My local pubs are all doing activities ranging from beer
festivals, hog roasts, live music and television coverage of the national Jubilee
Alternatively, buy some specially brewed beers to drink at a street party or a
picnic or just at home with friends. Here are three suggestions.
Jubilee Beer Choice
Shepherd Neame Spitfire 4.5% abv
Named after the legendary fighter plane this was originally produced in
1990 as a bottle conditioned 4.7% premium bitter as part of the 50th
anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This year a limited edition called
Glorious 2012 (“The Bottle of Britain”) has been released by Britain’s oldest
brewer. Spitfire is a golden ale whose
maltiness (from traditional English varieties) is balanced by the bold citrus
and fruity spiciness of local Kentish hops.
supermarkets and independent retailers at £1.69 rrp per bottle (500ml).
Hogs Back MAJEST.E.A. 5.2% abv
Based on T.E.A. (Traditional English Ale) although 5.2% abv
compared to T.E.A.’s 4.25 abv, this is brewed from English malts and
100% English Fuggles hops, a variety which was bred when Queen Victoria
was on the throne. This is described as being “a very regal dark corgi colour
with a fruity hoppy bite, generously honeyed and floral with a seductive
citric/mango element with Fuggles’s earthy notes as background.
Available from Majestic, Oddbins and Waitrose at about £1.95
per bottle (500ml).
Harveys Elizabethan Ale 7.5% abv
Harveys Brewery in Lewes is the oldest brewery in Sussex, dating
back to 1790 and this is an exact replica of the Coronation Ale brewed
in 1952. This dark barley wine with its full dark rich malt character is well
hopped with local Fuggles and Golding varieties. The colour is deep, rich
orange and the aroma has notes of bruised apples, dark fruits and nutmeg.
Full-bodied with a rich creamy texture, this beer tastes of caramel malt, dark
fruits, plums, dates and has a clean dry finish.
Available from Harveys managed houses or go to Harveys website.
It IS lovely!
It is estimated that this weekend an extra 60 million pints
of beer will be drunk in celebration, which means an extra £52 million in
duty and VAT for the Government (approximately). So the Government has
got enough from beer sales to pay for the Pageant four times over…
Just proves how right Queen Victoria was!