Wednesday, 8 February 2012

75 Year Old Coronation Ale for Edward VIII Discovered

Two thousand bottles of a long lost Coronation Ale have been discovered in a bricked up cellar. The Coronation Ale was set to be sold in 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 bottles of 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 ale 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.

Greene King is better known for beers such as Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale, Belhaven Best and a range of seasonal beers.

The origin of the ale became clear when a faded label was spotted on one bottle. Beer historians checked records and museum articles and confirmed the corked bottles were of Coronation Ale. Expert brewer John Bexon sampled the vintage ale and told the Daily Mail that:

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.

I had no idea that ales could age like wine but after doing a little reading up on the topic I have found out that Fullers produce a Vintage Ale. Their oldest vintage dates back to 1997.

The world's oldest beer was discovered in 2010 in the sunken cargo off a wreck found on the Baltic seabed near the Aland Islands, between Sweden and Finland - along with 30 bottles of Champagne (see Nick's Blog 200 Year Old Champagne is Veuve Cliquot and Juglar). However the beer from the wreck is not drinkable and scientists are hoping to analyse the remains to see if they can recreate it.

I wonder if the Coronation Ale is the world's oldest drinkable ale? Does anyone know of any ales that are older?


lostpastremembered said...

That is so cool... I never think of beer being vintage. Thanks for sharing a great article.

Sue said...

Thanks Deana - I'm going to try and find some vintage beers and will report back!

Joeshico said...

Very cool post. A bit different from what I usually see here, but very interesting. I too never think of vintage beer and believe the high 12% alcohol content may have lots to do with this ale still being drinkable. Good luck in searching out other vintage beers.

Sue said...

Thanks Joeshico :-)