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Magna Carta will be a beer for the people

Added: Monday, May 19th 2014

Windor & Eton

Windsor & Eton Brewery plans to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede in June 2015 with a special “power to the people” beer involving amateur beer makers.

Head brewer Paddy Johnson says: “We want a strong ale but we are very open to the exact style. The idea is to develop a beer that reflects the democratic principles of Magna Carta itself – to create a beer ‘by the people, for the people’. We have always been impressed with the creativity and quality of Britain’s amateur brewers so we met up with one of the most respected groups in the country – the London Amateur Brewers.

“We have set them a competition to find and brew on a small scale the perfect Magna Carta beer. The winning brewer will then brew their recipe for us at our craft brewery and see it being bottled.”

Pete Hughes of the London Amateur Brewers adds: “Our group is so excited by the challenge and opportunity that Paddy and the team at Windsor & Eton have given us. For an amateur brewer to see his recipe getting made on a commercial scale is so special. There are a lot of late night and experiments with new recipes already underway.”

Will Calvert, co-founder of Windsor & Eton, describes Magna Carta as “the ultimate local story that has gone on to have world-wide influence. Runnymede was chosen as a neutral point between Windsor and the London base of many of King John’s critics. As by far the closest brewery to Runnymede, this is a beer we’ve been planning for some time and we secured registration of our Magna Carta trademark in 2013.”

The signing of the Great Charter weakened the arbitrary and despotic powers of the monarch. It introduced habeus corpus – the right for a person not to be unlawfully detained and be given a fair trial – which has been enshrined in law in many countries. Magna Carta and the English legal system heavily influenced the American system at the birth of the United States: the memorial at Runnymede was built by the American Bar Association and there is also a John F Kennedy Memorial at the site.

Paddy Johnson says “the beer is bubbling along nicely – 12 beers to be exact! I spent some time at the London Amateur Brewers regular ‘brew-in’ to see how they were getting on. That’s what craft brewing is all about – everyone helping to make the best craft beers possible for people to enjoy.”

A design for the bottle label has been agreed with artist Graham Clarke. Bob Morrison, Windsor & Eton marketing director, says: “Our design is adapted from an original etching by Graham called Very Much Obliged. The moment we saw the original we thought it would make a really unusual and amusing label. We called Graham and explained our idea of developing a beer that reflected the democratic principles of Magna Carta.

“The challenge was to take such a large and detailed etching and get it to work on a small label. Graham has been fantastic, helping us with our adaptation and adding his own thoughts on label printing.”

*Photo shows Graham Clarke (left) and Bob Morrison in Clarke’s studio in Broughton Monchelsea, Kent. Below, the label for the beer.

Magna Carta