Friday, 30 April 2010


Question: they opened the National Brewery Centre in Burton-on-Trent last night by offering guests a) beer in elegant stemmed glasses b) old fashioned dimpled halves of the new(ish) Red Shield or c) French champagne?

There are not enough expletives in the world to express how frustrated I am that the answer is C. 


  1. What a joke! I wonder who thought that would be a good idea?

  2. That is seriously hard to believe... I take it it's not an april fool. Next time I visit a new winery I must ask them where is the beer...

  3. You have got to be kidding. What kind of moron made that decision? Oh, just farm out the event to a PR company who will provide the standard book/shop/whatever launch package. You would think that SOMEONE would have thought "hang on, brewing? Maybe some beer..?"

  4. Shocking. There was beer after though?

  5. Canapés too, no doubt. It could have been worse: perhaps alcohol-free White Shield?

  6. [bangs head on keyboard repeatedly]

  7. Could have been worse - could have had Malcolm Gluck to do the opening...

  8. I prefer to swill my ales from a martini glass. Stirred, not shaken. Oh and I want a slice of orange and a mini umbrella!

  9. Yes, guests were welcomed with Champagne at last night's event in Burton, but the real star of the evening was beer. Each course of the dinner was introduced by Steve Wellington and matched to one of his carefully selected beers. Every table was overflowing with real ale bottles - some not even commercially available. Yes, if a guest preferred a glass of wine, they could have one, but they were very much in the minority.

  10. @Tim, and you don't see anything wrong with that picture? I mean that seriously, if you can tell me why it's acceptable then I'd be interested to hear it because I'm aware I'm a little myopic when it comes to the subject of beer; so if there's a decent justification I'm always open to listening to it.

  11. Hi Melissa, sorry, but where I come from beer drinkers are allowed to drink wine and champagne as the occasion dictates. We're not scared of champagne, we're not scared of wine. We just love beer and those that appreciate it!

  12. @Tim, I'd like to be able to put it more eloquently than Garrett Oliver but I can't. So see the below, it's exactly how I feel:

    "Hey, I love me some good Champagne. I'll drink it every day if someone wants to give me some. Henriot 1990 will be particularly appreciated. But at the end of the day, beer can bring the noise better, louder, wider and taller. Serving Champagne at the opening of a National Beer Museum sounds to me like a serious sign of self-loathing. So whoever the people are who did this, we say 'lead, follow, or get the hell out of our way'. Damn."

  13. Ah, the perils of tweeting. I thought it would create a bit of a stink when I revealed champagnegate, but the evening did improve quite considerably after this initial, undeniable faux pas. I was going to discuss it in the context of reviewing the evening as a whole, which I will be doing soon. But in the meantime I think it's a bit premature to kick off a row based on one 140 character message.

  14. @Stono I understand what you mean but no, it's not (this may come across as sarcastic or harsh but that's not my intention) National Brewing Museum - a venue to celebrate the history and, hopefully future, of our amazing BREWING culture.

    It's not about being threatened by, or worried about champagne, or suggesting that beer drinkers can't drink sparkling wine and enjoy it - the issue here is that it just screams a lack of respect for beer, it perpetuates the myth that it's not complex, or elegant enough to celebrate such an occasion, that it's somehow second class, and what way is that to launch such a venture?

    In a lot of ways it is a terribly national thing to do when it comes to beer, because we routinely disrespect beer in an almost familiarity breeds contempt manner - but how very disappointing that a venture such as this repeats that mistake.

  15. Programed Proletariat-
    is told time and time again that Champagne =Celebration!

    When was the last time (if ever) you had a wedding ale ?

    Do you really think Cookie is going to have a wedding toast with a Cooking Lager, NO.

    And that is the issue,
    we have all been programed to believe that Champagne =
    Classy Party.

    What are going to do, take a saber to a puny bottle White Shield?

    Maybe a Magnum of Cantillion Lambic, but not that puny bottle of White Shield.

    There needs to be a Celebration Ale/Beer/Lambic something!

    Something as Cookie says “the birds will drink”.

    I put forth a Lambic, for these reasons.

    1) It is not an everyday beer.

    2) Usually light in color and served in small quantities.

    3) Can be both tart or sweet.

    4) Can be very effervescent or not.

    5) The fools can put fruit and an umbrella in it.

    6) It comes in a Magnum, as everyone knows size matters.

    7) Joe Sixpack will have to drink out of a glass because hopefully he is smart enough not to drink out of a sabered Magnum bottle.

    This is just and idea, there must be other options beer wise.

  16. Wow. Some of you peeps take beer way too seriously. Yeah, it would have been nice if it would have been beer, but champagne wasn't the end of the world. Some of y'all need to get a grip. Seriously.

  17. @TheBigDog - "Some of you peeps take beer way too seriously."

    Some of us love beer, some work in brewing, serving, selling, marketing or writing about beer *&* we love beer, so yes, we take it seriously. But is it really a surprise that we would think it daft that a brewing nation's national brewery centre (within a historic major brewery site, in the nation's brewing capital!) would celebrate its historic re-opening with French fizz?

    Just imagine the relaunch ceremony of a champagne house or bordeaux chateau. I doubt they would give serve beer at all (& I wouldn't blame them - it's not appropriate).

    I love the everyday pleasure of good beer, the simplicity of it, good conversation over a few beers, the unfussiness, non-ponciness that accompanies most beer-drinking is a welcome change from the tiring extremes of both price & language that can surround the world of wine.

    But offering wine as the first celebratory drink at this gig? - No. Just. No. I mean this seriously, but just seriously enough, not "too seriously" :~)

  18. It shows a singular lack of imagination. I can easily think of fifty beers that would have been more appropriate than French sparkling wine.