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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Beer 'not appropriate' for Royal Wedding

Yesterday's papers ran with the story that beer has been banned from the Royal Wedding.

Said one 'insider':

"There won't be any beer. Let's face it, it isn't really an appropriate drink to be serving in the Queen's presence at such an occasion.

"It was always their intention to give their guests a sophisticated experience and they have chosen the food and drink with this in mind."

What a shameful, depressing, snobbish, bigoted, blinkered, rude, clueless, cruel, idiotic thing to say.

You might just have been able to dismiss this as a faux pas - you can't and shouldn't force anyone to drink what they don't want, and this could just be an unthinking oversight in a wedding where every single choice of decoration, clothing, dinner service and music is being analysed and dissected to discover it's meaning and symbolism.

Except this is no oversight - that use of the word 'inappropriate' shows that this is a deliberate, calculated snub.  It would not be 'appropriate' to have beer served in the Queen's presence.  The very presence of beer - any beer - would be offensive to her royal sensibility.

And so Britain's national drink - the thing for which Britain is best known after the royals themselves - is barred from the wedding of Britain's future monarch.

(Also, needless to say, the 'sophisticated' wines being served will not include some of the many excellent British wines available today).

In part this just shows up the royal family as the overprivileged and out of touch twits we already know them to be.  But it also shows up the populist impression of the relative worth of different drinks.  Despite all the progress we've accomplished in beer look more interesting, classy and worthy of serious gastronomic consideration, the mainstream image is still that it is boorish and not to be taken seriously.

Past generations of royals went to Burton-on-Trent and 'brewed' special beers to commemorate events such as royal weddings.  Not this lot.  What can we expect when, last year, a visibly disinterested Princess Anne turned up to open the new National Brewing Centre in Burton and made a speech to the assembled throng about how she didn't like beer.

Even Prince Charles' own beer, sold under the Duchy Originals brand, is apparently good enough for him to make a fat profit from, but not good enough to supply to his son's wedding.

The royal family has stuck two fingers up to one of the last remaining manufacturing industries in their kingdom, especially to the plethora of breweries who have created special commemorative beers for the big day (yes, they're cashing in, but they're also wishing the royal couple well).

Particularly given that  £1 of every pint sold in the UK consists of duty and VAT, which goes to the public purse, which is in turn paying for the event, the contempt shown by the royals towards their subjects, their economy, and the icons and traditions of their kingdom, is sickening.

So.  If beer is not good enough for the royal wedding, I suggest the royal wedding is not good enough for beer.  I urge brewers to rebadge their royal beers with republican designs.  I urge pubs not to show the royal wedding, and to advertise themselves as royal wedding-free zones.

I also urge the BBPA to make a formal protest to the royal family using some of the points I have made above, if not the same language, and to issue a press release condemning this shameful contempt for beer.

Go to the pub on Friday.  Celebrate the free day off.  But don't show one ounce of support for these beer hating snobs.


overhere1 said...

Great post! I'll have a Tollpuddle Tippler please. (If it doesn't exist, it should.

Liam and Charlotte said...

Funny as probably two things that come to mind when people think of Britain is a pint of beer and the Royal Family. Their loss I suppose, "let the paupers have their dishwater while we enjoy the finest the world has to offer, none of this homegrown muck".

The 'Prince Charles mashed in this tub' sign at the National Brewery museum made me chuckle, it would certainly be a sight to behold. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like a regular occurrence for him to be mashed on British beer.(

You'll be pleased to know that at our wedding we had a cask of Farmers Pale Ale from Bradfield brewery, instead of champagne for the toast. It went down very well even though many people weren't beer drinkers. I think we disappointed our French guests though.

Eigon said...

At our wedding we asked for a barrel of Adnams to be put on for the reception (at the Garden House, Norwich. We chose it for the large garden). It went down so well that they started getting it in regularly!

TaleOfAle said...

I am still giggling after reading the post label at the bottom.

What the Royal family gets up to is of no concern of mine of course but I can understand the anger among brewers and beer enthusiasts that the national drink is being snubbed.

I wonder did anyone ask the queen her opinion or did they just assume that beer is too vulgar to have around her?

I hope she does not expect beer to stay hidden when she visits Ireland next month.

RedNev said...

I agree completely. Tolpuddle Tippler for me too, please.

Koops said...

As a resident of Australia, and thus, a subject of the Queen, I sayest: Fook those fooken' twats wot live in that thar palace on yonder. Guy Fawkes MkII anyone?

Birkonian said...

Judging by the photos of the Stag Nightin todays Red Tops I'd say that it is the Royals who aren't appropriate to drink beer.

Vicky said...

I suspect it's an attitude many people in this country would share. Beer is a pint (or many) of lout down the pub with mates, wine is for social occasions. It must be - tastings are done for wine on the telly, while beer is advertised with totty.

Rather than getting annoyed, how about we think of changing this. Get beer tastings on Saturday Morning Kitchen, talk about food and beer matchings.

We know beer has flavour and subtleness to rival wine. Most of this country's drinkers know it as a drink to get wasted on - and hence not appropriate to have when the Queen is about.

Richard said...

I suspect it's an attitude many people in this country would share. Beer is a pint (or many) of lout down the pub with mates, wine is for social occasions. It must be - tastings are done for wine on the telly, while beer is advertised with totty.

Rather than getting annoyed, how about we think of changing this. Get beer tastings on Saturday Morning Kitchen, talk about food and beer matchings.

We know beer has flavour and subtleness to rival wine. Most of this country's drinkers know it as a drink to get wasted on - and hence not appropriate to have when the Queen is about.

simon said...

Got to say I disagree. I didn't have wine at my wedding either, it doesn't make me a snob or a biggot or an idiot or out of touch. I'll stick my neck out and say I'm probably not the only one either. Its THEIR wedding let them do what they want! Wine is, you can't disagree, always the tipple of choice for fancy dos, why the shock that the Royal family, that stalwart of traditionalism, is following a long held norm of wine with a meal. Food and beer pairing is a long way of being common place.
The British beer/brewing scene has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years without any help "by Royal appointment". How can their choice, and honestly do you think they have that sort of choice, not to give their guests the choice of Red, White or Beer have a single iota of impact on British beer? The Mirror reported today that the British Beer & Pub Association claim an extra 100 million pints will be poured over the wedding bank holiday weekend and loads of brewers are making celebratory brews. And Will & Kate ain't serving beer? I don't think British beer ought to get too upset.

Anonymous said...

Hang on mimute, there's a small difference between an unattributed comment from "an insider" in some tabloid to the reality. IF official policy is to demean a superb Britsh product in favour of something mediocre and foreign then yes let's boycott the whole affair but possibly this is just some middle class snob gobbing off and parading his own prejudices for all the world to see.

Anonymous said...

But members of the Royal family DO drink beer. I know Prince Philip likes bitter.....

Anonymous said...

What's more English than a pint of Guinness?

Anonymous said...

I have seen Prince Philip drink beer (in a documentary some time ago), poured from a can into a glass. Wherever he went for lunch, two cans of bitter were always provided.

BeerHere2010 - Ken said...

You'd think w/a genetic disposition to over-sized snouts, these Royal inbreds would AT LEAST be sensitive to the 'nose', aromas, and florals of the great beers of the UK/EU and US - BUT - instead they've chosen to take a dump on a blue-green, sustainable, family-wage job producing industry that hands them 1 pound Sterling PER PINT to help sustain THEIR lifestyles... wow!

This colonial 'drop out' says hold a 'Champagne Dumping Party' on the day of the wedding w/an open bar of UK craftbeer for attendees.

Can I have a 'second'?

Stephen T said...

Peter, I know you're a pretty big cheese in the British Guild of Beer Writers, but I'd be extremely surprised if you were among those sent invites to HRH Prince William's wedding ceremony or reception! Therefore you aren't in a position to boycott it, surely?

Seriously, this blog is becoming very heavy on chippy, vaguely lefty, sixth former politics. It's boring and displays unpleasant personality traits. Stick to beer. It's the subject people pay you to write about, and the reason readers come to this site. No one cares about your hang-ups and petty jealousies.

Pete Brown said...

I love how in some people's minds criticising privilege and elitism can only be from jealousy, and anything vaguely leftish in political views is 'sixth form'.

Also - if you read what I said, it's not that they aren;t serving beer that upsets me the most - it's the declaration that beer is 'unsuitable'.

And if this post is not about beer, if it doesn't go right to the heart of the issues facing beer in this country, then I don't know what is.

Anon - I'm afraid this is the way PR works. Whenever you read a story where 'an insider' or 'pals' are quoted in the press, this is PR-ese for an off-the-record briefing from official sources.

Stephen - there are over a hundred blogs that just feature the beer the author drank last night, giving endless tasting notes. Since day one, I've mixed that in with more stuff commenting on the culture around beer, the industry, issues facing beer, and the issues around persuading more people to appreciate its manifold benefits. And that's all I'm doing here. Do you HONESTLY think this post is sour grapes because I've not been invited to the royal wedding? Because that is an extraordinary interpretation of it which suggests you have some issues there yourself, fella.

Pete Green said...

I'm simply amazed that you think the best way to combat the opinion that beer is associated with impropriety is to start swearing and throwing the toys out of your pram.

Shame on you for proving the insider right.

anirab said...

Well said Pete! I couldn't agree more.

anirab said...

Well said Pete. I couldn't agree more.

Pete Brown said...

Pete, there's no swearing in the post, unless you're counting 'twit'. As for throwing my toys out of the pram, what do you suggest - politely writing to the queen to ask her to reconsider?


(Whoops, sorry, that's cursing, isn't it?)

Pete Green said...

I was referring in part to your outbursts on Twitter over the weekend, though I would argue that "fuck the royals" is probably swearing too.

An anonymous "source" talks to one red top (and is then picked up by the Daily Fail, and no other paper as far as I can see) and you unleash a spiteful, childish tirade. You're not doing yourself or beer any favours.

william said...

What a very knee jerk and rather infantile article.

But, i suppose if it gets you some extra points to go towards your precious wikio ratings then it would have been worthwhile.

I'm not in the least bit monarchistic or pro-royalty but I have to say that calling the royal family C****, as you did on twitter is not good form and a very low blow.

I don't think, in this instance, you represent beer or the beer community very well.

In future keep your prejudices to yourself and just write about beer.

Alcohol Rehab NY said...

Well, it's good to see that they're only 20 years behind schedule. If ever there was an event to show case the new Golden Age of British brewing, then this would be it - especially with beer this good.

BLTP said...

I for one am outraged that my £10 subscription to this blog is being spent on commie tommy rot like this foulmouth tirade. We don't pay you, to write leninist diatribes. I think you should buck your ideas up and get on Saturday Kitchen with that nice James Martin and talk about wine with an Eastenders actor and see how quickly you can make a grim looking omelet and less of this trot conchy talk about the Queen gawd bless her and all who sail in her.
Next week I want my hard earned cash to go towards 2000 words on how Greene King affect house prices in Warwickshire and best kind of porter to drink when you're beating your housekeeper.

Martyn Cornell said...

Curiously censorious note crept into some of the comments here - oooh dear, Pete said the C word about the Windsors, off to the Tower with him.

Frankly, I genuinely care not at all what a pair of undeservedly privileged people drink at their subsidised wedding celebrations, and I cannot believe the subject is worth even a nanosecond of attention, not will it have a microgram of influence on anyone anywhere.

stephanos_lemon said...

Loved your response BLTP :)

All those people complaining...just unfollow Pete and stop reading the blog if it offends your delicate sensibilities so much.

I think its crazy that they're not even serving the duchy originals beer, I wonder if any brewers have approached the couple to be to ask if they'd like to brew a commemorative beer...

Anonymous said...

For once I agree with you, Pete. As a royalist I am disappointed and disgusted.


Paul the Brewe said...

Actually I know a few beers that would be 'inappropriate' to server in MY company.

Phil said...

@ William:

If you think that using the word "c*nt" (I only censor myself here, in case there are robotic filters around) in regards the "royals" is always off-limits, even when they do something which is genuinely-arguably "c*ntish", then you have ceded to them all the power they could ever dream of.

These are regular people; they are not magic, they are not above criticism or outrage. Using certain corners of the English language to describe their behaviour couldn't ever automatically amount to a "low blow" or "poor form" -- not unless something has gone horribly, horribly wrong with the world.

Ruth said...

Pete - HEAR, HEAR!!! As somebody who is rowing into the centre of Lake Bala to avoid the Royal hysteria I shall ensure I take a bottle of my favourite ale tipple. Beer is certainly sophisticated enough for me....

Gary Gillman said...

If there is no stand-up bar, I would think trays of wines will be carried to guests. It is more difficult, and not usual, to do this with beer.

As for table service, beer generally still is not an accompaniment to evening meals of the "entertaining" kind. Of course, it should be, but this is not the case yet I believe.

Certainly though if a stand-up bar will be provided, I agree beer should have been provided - beer not lager. Still, if it is omitted, it doesn't seem a major issue to me.

George III visited Whitbread in the 1790's accompanied by the consort and numerous aristocrats. They spent some hours touring the facility in fact. At a post-tour dinner held at the brewery, the visiting party tasted ("partook" of), not just the fine wines laid out, but Whitbread's Entire.

Part of that tradition continues in the form of Royal figures visiting pubs - one recalls the famous picture of the late Queen Mother drawing a pint of Young's - or attending at brewery openings. The Royal Duchy beer is another example. And now I read that Prince Philip enjoys a glass of bitter at lunch.

Thus, in my view, it's not that the Royals have any particular aversion to the malt, but rather that the conventions of entertaining have precluded consideration of offering beer to guests.


Anonymous said...

The word "inappropriate" shows, not shoes.

I know it's only a small typo but it threw me at first. I was wondering what beer had to do with wearing inappropriate shoes to the Royal Wedding.

Anonymous said...

I think I can see who the twit is here.

Sadly at least one great local craft brewer has spread your comment and if they are equally political then you'll be losing them business too.

What a great way to represent beer drinkers. When you have the high ground, slag off other people and end your post "Feck the Royal Family" I'm think you've slipped right down the hill into the swamp at the bottom.

I support my local craft brewer but I don't support these sentiments.

Pete Brown said...


I can understand that some people may have a problem with my language (though I don't regret it).

But I'm genuinely staggered that some beer fans are criticising ME for having a problem with beer being declared 'unsuitable' for the biggest occasion in the British calendar this year.

Wow, guys.

TaleOfAle said...

It seems a lot of people are very angry by Petes comments but I don't get why.

Perhaps you can expect this sort of reaction from people who love the Royal family because it is part of their heritage. You know, being British.
So is Beer and for it to be announced that Beer is "unsuitable" for the British Royal family, it means that they are implying that Beer, one of the foundations of the Empire is "unsuitable for modern Brits".

All they had to do was have the wedding and not serve beer. It was the public announcement that pissed him off and rightly so.

Anonymous said...


But people above have also explained why just beer and weddings often don't go together. Beer at the bar and the best part of the socialising, wine with the meal and toast is ONE way to do it. shame, indeed, that they are not doing that.

Quite right to catch and comment on their public statement. Quite wrong to assume they are better or worse than the rest of us, and certainly wrong to abuse others. IMHO.

Try commenting on things not people, and it'll be a smoother ride, I suspect.

Beeron said...

Keep it up Pete, every word you said was spot on. They're not just c***s, they're repulsive, odious, obnoxious inbred c***s, and this comment about their own country's national drink sums them up perfectly.

Velky Al said...


The problem with the reaction is that there has been no official pronouncement from on high. It is an unattributed "quote" from an "insider" - no more official or authoritative than the idea that it must be true because the "bloke in the pub said so".

Slightly tongue in cheek perhaps, but if you take out the word "beer" and replace it with "fish n'chips", whilst replacing "wine" with "canapes" you could create the same situation with the food on offer at said soiree.

I also think that we are overstating slightly the case for beer being the number 2 thing people think of when they think of Britain. I would suggest further up the list would be said fish n'chips, swiftly followed by tea, scones and roast beef, or as Cousin Avi would have it:

As for the Royals being "beer hating snobs", that is demonstrably not true, Prince Philip's tipple of choice is Boddingtons for starters.

The Beer Justice said...

Blair and Brown must be gutted not to get an invite when even the Middleton's local publican will be there. He's clearly sophisticated enough but, like beer, neither of those two are.

Hughes the Booze said...

As always, Pete, a witty and thought provoking Blog post about something that all right thinking people ought to be aware of and, frankly, beating their breasts about - it's a national tragedy.

(And I don't find the language used on Twitter anywhere near as offensive as I find the Monarchy barring beer from the wedding).

Hughes the Booze said...

As always, Pete, a witty and thought-provoking Post, this time about a national tragedy.

Personally I wouldn't be watching Kylie and Jason's wedding on Friday anyway, but now I'll not watch it very, very pointedly...

Russ said...

Wow... I would like to thank some of the commenters above for demonstrating that we Americans don't have a monopoly on ridiculous partisan bickering. I'm fairly ignorant to the nuances of British politics but like to think I know quite a bit about political theory in general, and characterizing the above post as 'vaguely leftish,' 'commie tommy rot' or 'leninist' seems to say more about the commenters than it does about Pete.

Russ said...

Oops... After rereading the above comments I think the 'commie trot' one was a joke, but I stand by the sentiment of my last post. I just don't see how defending beer as a sophisticated beverage can be interpreted as a political statement.

The Bocking Kellys said...

No one's mentioned that it seems rather inconsistent given that they're at least a quarter German. So I will.

Thomas said...

I can't believe the negative press this blog is receiving. Are you all so blind? Beer is one of the main providers for income in this country. Beer is liquid gold. Beer built our armys. Beer built our shipping industry. We don't export beer anymore. We don't have a shipping industry. Beer is a necessity to our diet and evolution as man kind. Beer is a pre-requisite for a healthy life-style yet it is ignored; plagerised and butchered by incompetent half wits in charge of the higher order of our society.

I think beer duty should be frozen; grants for micro breweriers increased and funding schemes for better understanding and tolerance of beer. For the Royals to drink French is a travesty. It's a kick in the teeth for an industry so British and dear to our hearts.

People whom disagree otherwise are hypocrites. You wouldn't be writing on this blog if you didn't drink beer would you?

Jonny Hemingway said...

I'm not a fan of the royal family, but it's fine if they don't want to serve beer...what's not ok is to badmouth beer as it is a great british tradition. What gets me most about this, is how people seem to think it's ok to think other people are better purely because they were born in different circumstances, but for people to badmouth them is wrong. If the royal family or the people who represent them do something stupid like this, then they deserve people complaining about them.

I say scrap the monarchy and their stupid "better than you" attitude.

Dan said...

Look, they've roughed it with choice of birds this year. Perhaps common beer will get a look in next time. It's surely a vague trajectory of progress that will end up with them just as fucked as the rest of us in time. Sit back, have a nice sip of cidre, and relax.