Britain is a currently divided nation. If only there was something to unite us. There is - beer, the national drink, and the best place to drink it, the pub. In Britain we come together at the pub regardless of our background and status.
Beer is the world's favourite alcoholic drink, a lingua franca that connects people across the globe who may have nothing else in common but their love of the fermented cereal gift from nature called beer.
'What drink forever will bring us together, let's raise a glass of beer'. That is the opening line of Cheers To Beer' the anthem to beer that I co-wrote. It's true. Look at how beer is used as a device of diplomacy. Successive British Prime Ministers have taken visiting Presidents to their local boozer for the all-important photo op of them both at the bar holding a pint. President Obama and David Cameron swapped bottles of beer from their constituencies. Bill Clinton knew the power of the pint when he visited Ireland during the peace process and drank the obligatory glass of Guinness.
On June 15th Beer Day Britain takes place. This year it is the start of a long weekend called Say Cheers To Beer ending on Father's Day June 18th - a celebration of the national drink. Thousands of pubs, breweries, and retailers are hosting special events, and some are giving away beer. The focus of Beer Day Britain is the National Cheers To Beer at 7pm when drinkers across the land raise a glass, say Cheers To Beer and then post a message on social media with the hashtag #CheersToBeer.
I am the instigator of Beer Day Britain. I chose June 15th because that is the date Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. Ale is mentioned in clause 35 of the Great Charter. Magna Carta was a peace treaty to end a civil war. When Beer Day Britain happened for the first time in 2015, the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the country was still a united queendom and the referendum to leave the EU was yet to happen. Brexit and the latest general election has created a schism in Britain. We need a salve and something to bond us. Beer in the pub often has a magical effect on the drinker. It's as though those mythical beer goggles have rose coloured glass in them and that everything in life is good.
Beer is the most convivial and egalitarian of drinks and in its millennia long history it always has been. Mesopotamian clay seals from circa 3850 BC depicts people drinking beer together as does a lapis lazuli cylinder seal from the Sumerian Queen Puabi's tomb dating back to circa 2500 BC. Ancient Egyptians bestowed poetic names on their myriad beers, including one called Joy Bringer.
Let's go to the pub over the 'Say Cheers To Beer' weekend, celebrate the national drink and have a nationwide party. What drink forever will bring us together? Let's raise a glass of beer!