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Guest Column

Time to put beer on the top table

Added: Thursday, October 30th 2014

beer and food

Dear British Government

Imagine this scenario.  At an official reception in the Élysée Palace in Paris, hosted by Monsieur le President, waiters offer guests glasses of New World Pinot Noir.  Sacré bleu -- dust off the guillotine!  In Mexico at Los Pinos, El Presidente extols the worldwide popularity of vodka as Tequila producers listen in dismay.  It would not happen.

National alcoholic drinks are often a great source of pride.  Consider Scotch.  Ask a person to suggest a word associated with Scotland and it's highly likely he or she will say whisky.  Had the Scots voted Yes then a significant element of the independent country's economy -- circa £5 billion a year -- would have come from Scotch.

Now picture this scene.  At an official British government event in Whitehall waiters offer drinks to guests.  But what is this -- Chilean Merlot?  Not a drop of beer, Britain's national drink, in the house. I know, because I was there.  This made me think what an excellent opportunity these official functions are to show some pride in British beer: for beer to be offered to guests at state dinners in addition to wine, and for it to be showcased at British embassies and high commissions. 

Not only because Britain is one of the leading brewing nations in the world and historically had the most influence in spreading the love of beer to all hemispheres, but in recognition of the fact that brewing and pubs contribute more than £22 billion each year to the nation's GDP and generate £11 billion in tax revenue. One job in brewing creates 21 associated jobs in agriculture, pubs, retail, and the supply chain.  British barley is renowned as the best brewing and distilling malt in the world, and British hops, with their subtle yet complex character, are increasingly in demand by brewers around the world who aim to brew balanced beers. What’s not to be proud of?

If you think British beer should be included on the drinks menus for government events and at embassies and high commissions then please show your pride in British beer and ask the government to do the same by signing this petition and encouraging your friends to sign too by the sharing the link on social media.  If we get 100,000 signatures, then the subject may be debated in the House of Commons. 

We can do it!  Beer lovers have already shown their power by persuading the Chancellor to axe the Beer Duty Escalator.  This campaign will cost the government nothing and it will take only a few seconds of your time to help to persuade the politicians that British beer is worthy of showing off.

Here is the link:

Thank you and cheers!

Jane Peyton

*Jane Peyton is Britain's Beer Sommelier of the Year and author of several books including 'Beer o' Clock' (click here for details).  Jane is the driving force behind Beer Day Britain, a national beer day on 15 June  2105.