Landlord is a diamond

THE Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as was only to be expected, inspired Britain’s brewers to produce a host of celebratory beers to mark the occasion, with the combination of patriotism and an extra day’s holiday representing a marketing opportunity which could hardly be ignored.

Among the special brews was Diamond Ale from Adnams, closely based on Wedding Ale which was brewed by the Southwold company last year to mark the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton – another occasion which saw an extra day off bestowed upon a grateful nation.

Diamond Ale, a pale amber in colour, was brewed using hops of the Sovereign variety (of course) and, as with Wedding Ale, a helping of locally-sourced honey. It is suggested that the term “honeymoon” arose from a tradition of brewing honey beers to celebrate weddings, although it seems more likely that it was the expression which inspired the beers rather than the other way round.

The more cynical explanation for the term “honeymoon” is that it recognises that the first month of a marriage (equivalent to a full phase of the moon) is the sweetest, with the implication, presumably, that it’s all downhill from there…

Across the county in Bury St Edmunds, Greene King not only brewed Celebration Pale Ale to mark the Diamond Jubilee but also baked a cake, which it delivered to Buckingham Palace, containing a dash of the Queen Elizabeth Coronation Ale which the company brewed in June 1953.

The pale and golden ale styles were much to the fore among beers brewed to mark the jubilee, perhaps in anticipation of the warmth and sunshine which, in the event, were conspicuous almost entirely by their absence.

But perhaps it was the moment for pale ale on a rather deeper level. By coincidence, two of the UK’s best-known and most popular pale ales are also celebrating their own “diamond jubilees”, having first been brewed in 1952, the year of HM the Queen’s accession.

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In the case of Marston’s Pedigree there appears to be an element of uncertainty whether it was genuinely a new beer which was launched or whether it was simply a new name for the “Burton Pale Ale” which the company had been brewing in Burton-upon-Trent for many years. According to Marston’s, the name “Pedigree” was the result of a competition held among the company’s workforce, with the winning suggestion coming from Marjorie Newbold, a member of the typing pool.

Details of her prize seem not to have been recorded but this is not the case with Timothy Taylor’s Lordlord pale ale, which was also first brewed in 1952. It was originally marketed as “Competition Ale”, with drinkers invited to suggest a permanent name for it, and the winner, the steward of a local club at Keighley in Yorkshire, where Timothy Taylor & Co has been brewing since 1858, received an astonishing �500 (about �10,000 in today’s money) for coming up with “Landlord”.

Pedigree and Landlord both remain best sellers 60 years on, but Landlord has a particularly distinguished history, having been named Champion Beer of Britain (CBOB) no fewer than four times, in 1982, 1983, 1994 and 1999 and been runner-up for the title on a further four occasions, in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 2010.

CBOB is, of course, a competition for cask beers but Landlord actually started out as a bottle beer, the cask version following after it proved a hit.

Bottled Landlord, which has also won its share of awards, is, unusually, slightly lower in strength than the cask version, at 4.1%abv against 4.3%. In most cases, where there is any difference in strength between the two, the take-home version tends to be the stronger.

But no matter; the bottled version is in no way lacking in character. The initial impression is one of sweetness, with notes of caramel and boiled sweet, but this is almost instantly offset by a robust bitterness, the well-balanced intensity of the malt and hop characters being reminiscent of an Indian Pale Ale, although Landlord is rather lower in strength than a true IPA. A slightly biscuity note then starts to assert itself but the hops have the final say with a finish which is long, refreshing and, frankly, rather more-ish.

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