As it is the Jubilee Weekend (or rather four days), I have a Jubilee related post on both Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow’s post is one of my usual posts, with photos of previous events. For today’s post, I dug out my collection of 1977 Jubilee beers and 1981 Royal Wedding beers from the cobweb filled corner of the garage.
The late 1970s and early 1980s involved a lot of pubs. For some reason that I cannot really remember, in 1977 I collected any special Jubilee beer that I could find in pubs across London and Essex. Probably the novelty of finally being able to legally buy alcohol in a pub without any issues.
They have been boxed and stored away for the last 45 years, but I thought I would get them out for this weekend and see how many of the breweries, brewing Jubilee beer in 1977 still exist.
Young & Co – Silver Sovereign, brewed at the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth:
Young’s closed the Ram brewery in 2006, and are now a pub company. Their beers were initially brewed by a joint venture with Charles Wells in Bedford, but they have since sold their share in the brewery venture.
They still have a head office in Wandsworth, close to the location of their original brewery.
Wadworths – Queen’s Ale:
Wadworths are still brewing beer at their brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire, but according to their website, they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer for 2022. They had an impressive beer label in 1977.
Greene, King & Sons – Jubilee Ale
Greene, King & Sons are still brewing at their brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, however again according to their website they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer for 2022.
Shepherd Neame – Silver Jubilee Ale
Shepheard Neame are also still brewing at Faversham, Kent, and have produced a “Celebration Ale” for the 2022 Jubilee, however this is only available in casks in pubs rather than bottled.
Paine & Co – Silver Jubilee Ale
A company that appears to have sold their pubs and brewery to a rival brewers in the 1980s. The name disappeared and the brewery would later close.
Fullers – Celebration Brew
Fullers seem to have gone with a rather basic label for their Celebration Brew, although is does include a picture of a Griffin, from their Griffin brewery in Chiswick. They are still at the Chiswick brewery, however the Fullers company sold the brewery to Japanese international drinks company Asahi, and Fullers are now just a pub company with Asahi owning the brewery and producing beers under the Fullers name.
Fullers do not appear to be brewing a beer for the 2022 Jubilee.
Ridleys – Jubilee Ale
Ridleys were brought by Greene King, who then closed their brewery near Chelmsford, Essex, and stopped producing the majority of beers under the Ridleys name. A rather nice silver label for their Jubilee Ale.
Morells – Celebration Ale
The Morells company, along with their Oxford brewery closed in 1998.
Hall & Woodhouse – Bicentenary Ale
Hall & Woodhouse appear to have ignored the 1977 Jubilee, preferring to celebrate their 200 year anniversary.
They are still in business with pubs and the same brewery in Blandford, Dorset, however as with the 1977 Jubilee, they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer for 2022.
Adnams – Royal Ale
Adnams based in Southwold, Suffolk are still in operation, and producing beers from their own brewery. Unfortunately there appears to be no Jubilee Ale for 2022, although Adnams have branched out to produce Gin and Vodka as well as beers.
Royal Wedding Beers – 1981
On the same theme, the Royal Wedding in 1981 between Charles and Diana also resulted in a number of breweries producing special beers to commemorate the event.
Gibbs Mew & Co – Royal Heritage
Gibbs Mew & Co of Salisbury brewed a Royal Heritage beer, and their bottle featured St Paul’s Cathedral.
The company closed their Salisbury brewery in 1997 and continued as a pub chain, however the pubs and the company were sold to Enterprise Inns in 2011.
Devenish – Wedding Ale
Devenish was another Dorset brewery, and followed the same fate as Gibbs Mew.
Devenish closed their brewery in 1985, and continued as a pub operator until 1993 when the company was sold to Greenalls.
Berni – Royal Reception
If you fancied a beer in 1981 to go with your Berni Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips and Black Forest Gateau, then a bottle of their Royal Reception strong ale could be yours.
Berni was one of the pub / restaurant chains that would bring the experience of going out for a meal in the 1970s to the masses. Relatively cheap, good service and a simple, standard menu helped with the popularity of the chain, and the most brought meal of Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips and Black Forest Gateau becoming representative of eating out in the late 1970s.
Berni Inns was sold to Whitbread in 1995 who rebranded the chain to become part of the Beefeater resturants.
Brains – Prince’s Ale
Brains offered their Prince’s Ale in 1981. The brewery was based in Cardiff, where they are still brewing, but no special beers for the Jubilee that I can find on their website.
Fullers – Celebration Brew
Fullers Jubilee beer had a rather simple label, however they went with a more ornate label for their Celebration Brew to mark the 1981 Royal Wedding.
Greene King – Royal Wedding Ale
Greene King produced their Royal Wedding Ale. The label looks as if it was only designed at the last moment when it would have been too late to produce a more ornate label, so they went with a simple text based label.
St Austell Brewery – Prince’s Ale
The St Austell Brewery’s Prince’s Ale was rather unusual in that it was a Barley Wine.
Barley Wine is a type of beer, but is generally much stronger than a normal beer, probably why their bottle was smaller than the typical bottle of the time.
The St Austell Brewery is located in St Austell, Cornwall and the brewery and company are still in operation. They do have a Jubilee Beer called “Thank Brew” which apparently is part of an initiative by breweries, pubs and communities to produce a special beer for the Jubilee, and they are selling a bottled Platinum Jubilee Ale, which has a rather nice label.
J. Arkell and Sons – Royal Wedding Ale
Arkell’s had a rather impressive, gold label to their Royal Wedding Ale.
The company, based in Swindon is still brewing beer, but does not appear to be brewing a Jubilee beer.
Camerons – Royal Wedding Ale
Camerons featured a drawing of St Paul’s Cathedral on the label of their Royal Wedding Ale.
Camerons are still brewing in Hartlepool, Teeside, and whilst they do not appear to have a Jubilee beer, they have teamed up with the band Motorhead and have a Road Crew beer available both in draft and bottles.
Based on that small survey it seems that there are a very small number of beers brewed for the 2022 Jubilee, and I have not seen any on recent pub visits.
Probably brewers have to be more commercially focused these days, and the costs of producing a one off product outweigh the potential benefits.
What I did notice when revisiting all these bottles was that the labels do not show the alcohol content / ABV. If you were drinking a bottle of Berni’s Royal Reception Strong Ale, then you had no idea what strong actually meant.
The excellent Boak & Bailey site has researched the introduction of this labelling and found that it was a result of the UK implementing an EEC (European Economic Community) directive, and that labeling beers with the alcohol content became law on the 17th July, 1989.
All these 1977 Jubilee beers and 1981 Royal Wedding beers are unopened, although I very much doubt their contents are drinkable. and probably very unwise to try.
They will now be returned to a very dusty corner of the garage.
Whatever you are drinking (or not), I hope you are having a very good Jubilee four days.
First Prize to Berni who opened up the horizon of hope and aspiration for millions of people in a terrible era fraught with economic misery and mainland terrorism. Fun to see the wide variety of bottles. Fullers “extra strong bitter” is tempting even if past the sell by date! Thanks for sharing.
What a fabulous collection. ‘Ordinary’ mundane items gathered with an eye to the future.
Thank you for a great and refreshing article.
I always look forward to your weekly postings. Today’s is delightful. It brought back memories of my student days in the early 1960s. I studied geology and we had to keep a field book. At that time I drank brown ale. Mounted in the back of the book are 24 labels which I carefully soaked off each night. They take a lot less space than the bottles they came on.
i also noticed the absence of ABV– but also : what tiny bottles! 275ml. Beer nowadays is most commonly sold in bottles of 330ml or 500ml, or in cans 440ml
There is more about Paine & Co and the other defunct brewers listed on the website of the Brewery History Society :-
Before the use of ABVs became ubiquitous in 1989, beer strengths were recorded as OG – original gravity. In very rough terms, the OG would be a 10 before the ABV, so a 4 per cent beer would be an OG of 1040, or a 5 per cent would be an OG of 1050 and so on :-
However, my experience is that in the 1970s and 1980s, drinkers did not tend to be as interested in the strength of an ale as they are today.
Barley wine, a favourite as a student late 1960`s early 70`s ! Berni Inn for a grown up meal that didn`t cost the earth.
We inherited a selection of strong ales from the 1960s and, like you, were sceptical about their drinkability. However, on opening they were fine, albeit lacking any fizz.
I’m sure I’ve got some Silver Jubilee Guinness in the loft – might be wrong about the brand though. My father was in the wine trade all his life and used to be given lots of merchandise over the years. No idea what to do with it though now. Undrinkable I’d think!
The Ram Brewery in Wandsworth is now operated by Sambrook’s, who moved there from Battersea recently – either last year or in 2020. They don’t appear to be offering any jubilee beers.
I’ve not seen any bottled Jubilee beers but, up here in the North West, I’ve seen a couple on cask – ‘Queens Tipple’ by Robinson’s of Stockport and ‘Platinum’ by Bowland Brewery of Clitheroe.
I’m pleased to say that Hall & Woodhouse have brewed a Jubilee beer – a strong bitter called Noble Queen. I’m currently sipping a pint of it (very nice it is too) in their wonderful pub the Ship and Shovell in Craven Passage… unique, or so I believe, for being split into two halves by the narrow passage. Cheers!
Out of interest, does anyone here remember the Lord Palmerston Pub, (60 Hampstead Road NW1) when it was active? The old pub is now the site of Camden People’s Theatre and I want to make a piece there which reconstructs the pub in the new theatre building through the stories of people who remember it. Can anyone help me with this????
Any support much appreciated.
Tiny bottles: at a guess, most beer bottles would historically have been a pint (20 fluid ounces) or half pint (10 fl oz).
Alongside decimalisation, there were moves to metricate in the late 1960s and early 1970s – including a Metrication Board set up in 1969, with a view to changing over by 1975. A pint is 568 ml and a half pint is 284 ml. The former was later rounded down to 500 ml, but 284 ml is a silly number, so most seem to have rounded down to 275 ml which is approximately 9 2/3 fl oz. Except for the Paines bottle, which is 175 ml (6.1 fl oz) and the barley wine, which is 170 ml (6 fl oz).
Nowadays bottles are almost all a third or half litre, but with the current government, perhaps we can look forward to the glorious return of pint and half pint bottles, assuming the bottling plants can be persuaded to retool to new sizes that no one else uses. The US fluid ounce is about 4% larger that the imperial version.
re Jubilee Beers Post
According to my husband, who grew up in a Fullers pub, they did produce a small run of silver jubilee beer called Celebration. The bottle you have was a later production which they re-produced due to the popularity of the silver jubilee beer. The silver jubilee bottle label was the same design as shown except the colours were silver & blue rather than black & red . The label design for the later royal wedding celebration beer is a similar design using the reverse of blue & silver. He thinks he may still have a bottle somewhere in the loft!
On seeing your article I retrieved a collection of over 50 different Silver Jubilee ales from my loft and was surprised to find that I had numerous (maybe 20 or so) spares plus a long-forgotten number of Centenary, bicentenary or other commemoratives from the mid-70s to early 80s. Although I haven’t summoned up the will to delve into the core collection (yet) I have opened all the spares and commemoratives, so roughly 30 in total. Surprisingly, no more than half-a-dozen were undrinkable (and it was unmistakeable), notably the lighter and (presumably) weaker variants. Most of the others had thrown a dark dense sediment at the bottom of the bottle but were easily decanted and retained some ‘fizz’. Flavours had obviously changes – mostly develping rich, complex, malty or barley wine notes but they were distinctive, enjoyable and (alcohol apart) harmless!