BLOG #84 - STRATFORD HAVEN, WEST BRIDGFORD, NOTTINGHAM
Beer - a universal language of sorts. Beer lovers from all over the world can gather in a British pub, and though they may not speak the same language, they can bond over a decent pint, brewed in the British way – because nowhere is beer a more important part of society than in Britain. Beer is the national drink.
Not least of the things for everyone to celebrate at this year's London Olympiad is the very best of British food and drink. So it follows that some of us find it a little insensitive that a Dutch lager-producing giant has been chosen as the official beer of the 2012 Summer Olympics which starts next week.
Dutch firm Heineken® – they produce lager by the way and plenty of it - was chosen by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) as the official beer of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. What no Fuller's London Pride or Young's London Gold? It certainly knocks the furore surrounding the US team and their uniforms from the People’s Republic of China into a cocked hat! It's a shame that global corporate sponsorship has been allowed to hijack the Games.
As part of the deal, the company's flagship premium beer lager*, Heineken® will be the branded product served at the Games and Heineken UK will have exclusive pouring rights for its limited portfolio of brands (which includes John Smith's Smoothflow and Strongbow cider) at all London 2012 venues where alcohol is served.
Major Rook - Equestrian Olympian from Nottingham
Greg Mulholland, a Lib Dem Party Member and the chair of the “All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group” recently vehemently criticized the IOC for its thoughtlessness in opting for Heineken®over a British brew.
"Beer is the UK's national drink,” Mulholland said. “and the country has a strong and ancient tradition of brewing; by choosing a mass produced bland foreign lager (you said it, pal!), the Committee has ignored all the wonderful, traditional beers that the UK has to offer and instead gone for the company with the biggest [cheque] book.” Admittedly Heineken® does have plants based in the UK and produces some of its products here, but has closed a lot of breweries in the process.
MP Mulholland went on to say, "The Olympic Games is a prime opportunity for Britain to showcase the best of British, including the opportunity to promote its traditional beers and its thriving brewing industry. By opting for Heineken as the official beer (it’s a lager by the way – admittedly a type of beer), the opportunity has been lost. The decision is completely at odds with the strong positive British identity of the bid and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics."
In the end, the British public and those from abroad attending the Olympics who want to drink a beer as they enjoy the spectacle will have little choice. Most will merely fork out over £4.50 for their lager and put up with it.
The traditions and heritage of the country seems to matter little to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the body that chooses which sponsors' products will become the “official” items of the Games.
*lager is a type of beer – in the interests of pedantry – and is a term used in the UK to describe the very different product largely brewed outside of these shores using cold temperatures, usually without hops and a bottom fermentation process which all contribute to an insipid, unpalatable offering.