London 2012 Olympics: Toast the Games with the best of British beer

By Greg Mulholland

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags British beer Great british beer Summer olympic games Olympic games United kingdom

Mulholland: "We could have seen every Olympic venue serving an array of the fabulous beers brewed across the nation"
Mulholland: "We could have seen every Olympic venue serving an array of the fabulous beers brewed across the nation"
Well, here we are, the culmination of this quite remarkable summer of Jubilee, sport and rain — the London Olympics. Last Friday’s wonderful opening ceremony focused on much that is associated with London, England and the UK. Yet amid the sponsors’ logos, one would expect some reference to one of the things most enjoyed by foreign visitors: British beer and that unique cultural institution, the pub.

Instead, at a time when the UK, one of the world’s leading brewing nations with 850 breweries producing more than 5,500 different beers, London 2012 is represented by a foreign beer.

Can you imagine an Australian wine sponsoring the Tour de France? Seriously? The French would storm the Bastille. Yet, in a year when Bradley Wiggins wins that illustrious event for the first time, the Brits meekly accept foreign mass-produced lager as a sponsor for the first Olympics on British soil since 1948.

It matters not that Heineken claims to be a British company, that it owns other beer brands or how many pubs its pubco arm currently owns — the sponsor is a foreign lager. Sponsorship is about association, about a good ‘fit’ and as a former marketing professional, this ‘partnership’ simply jars. It doesn’t work.

Why such lazy and unpatriotic thinking from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG)? With a bit of lateral thinking, surely a deal could have been struck with either the Independent Family Brewers of Britain or the Society of Independent Brewers, or both? We could have seen every Olympic venue serving an array of the fabulous beers brewed across the nation.

Still, when we get the Olympics in Yorkshire (as the runaway capital of British brewing, with no less than 98 breweries brewing more than 600 beers), we won’t be so lazy as LOCOG.

Welcome to Yorkshire, which knows the way to sell and celebrate your identity is with your local produce.

I haven’t got any tickets for the Olympics, but I shall be standing in the crowds at Hyde Park to cheer for the incredible Brownlee brothers, who live in my constituency and are taking part in the triathlon.

It was a toss-up between trying to catch a glimpse of them live or watching it with locals in the fantastic village pub, the Fox
and Hounds. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be stuck in one of the official enclosures with the second-rate beer.

Luckily for me — and the thousands of visitors to London — there are wonderful pubs all over the capital and straight after the end of the triathlon, the Great British Beer Festival begins.

So the patriotic message that all true patriots should put out to our Olympic visitors and home fans is to celebrate London 2012 appropriately, by enjoying the Games and toasting them and all athletes’ success with a pint of Great British beer in the Great British pub.

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