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Greene King head brewer John Bexon proudly shows a 75-year-old ale which never went on sale – because it was brewed to celebrate the coronation of Edward VIII – the king who was never crowned.
The Suffolk brewer’s Coronation Ale was due to be sold around Britain to commemorate the historic anniversary of the king’s first year on the throne in 1936 – but it never saw the light of day after he abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.
It 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 brewery site in Bury St Edmunds.
After cracking open a bottle John, 53, said: “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.”
Greene King’s brewers made around 2,000 of the beers in preparation for the 1936 Coronation.
It was discovered among 3,000 bottles of other commemorative beers which did make it to sale, including one to mark the current queen’s Coronation in June 1953 and Audit Ale which was a barley wine brewed in the 1950’s.
The origin of the beer 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.
John said it was impossible to put a price on the ale but said it could be of real value to beer buffs or collectors.
“We’ve brewed beer on the same site in Suffolk for over 200 years and there is a network of cellars under the brewery which means there could be more vintage beers just waiting to be re-discovered,” added John, who has been in the brewing industry for 35 years and been at Greene King for 11 years.
Greene King brews some of Britain’s favourite beers including Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale, Belhaven Best and a range of seasonal beers.
Greene King also operates over 2,400 pubs and restaurants across the UK.
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.John Bexon, Head Brewer of Greene King