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HOUSE OF COMMONS STRANGERS BAR HAS HISTORY OF FISTICUFFS

'I recommend this ale to the House!': BBPA brews beer for MPs

By Ben Bouckley+

20-Jan-2014

The UK Houses of Parliament (Photo: Stefano Brivio/Flickr)
The UK Houses of Parliament (Photo: Stefano Brivio/Flickr)

The British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) is creating a bottled beer for UK Parliament but insists MPs won't be seen staggering around the corridors of Westminster.

The bottled beer pictured below, 'Parliamentary Beer Champion 2014', will be given to members of the all-party parliamentary beer group by the BBPA at an event to be held at the Houses of Parliament on 22nd January to thank them for their support in the campaign against the controversial beer duty escalator, which was finally scrapped in March 2013.

Asked if it was really such a great idea to give UK MPs beer, Neil Williams, head of media at the BBPA, told BeverageDaily.com: "You won't be surprised to hear me say that beer is our national drink, and in moderation it's not harmful for you at all.

No more dust ups in the Stranger's Bar...

"Yes, we do want our Parliamentarians to drink beer certainly. We're very proud of our beer and are pleased to be presenting it as part of acknowledging the work MPs have done in terms of helping the sector with its tax burden last year," he added.

"Also, it's only a 275ml bottle so it's very unlikely to give rise to the kind of concerns you raise - it's 1.5 units [of alcohol in the bottle] at 5.6% ABV."

(N.B. There is a history of alcohol fueled violence in the UK House of Commons' Strangers Bar. Labour MP Eric Joyce was arrested in 2012 for headbutting an MP from the rival Conservative Party and attacking several other drinkers).

Williams said the beer sector was overtaxed, with a 42% rise in duty over the five years to the duty cut last March.

"So it's going to take a considerable amount of time to address the over-taxation of beer," he said.

Last week the BBPA wrote to MPs urging them to support a Parliamentary motion calling for a beer duty freeze in the Budget on March 20, so in this sense the beer gift to MPs at this time can be seen as opportune.

The BBPA’s Brigid Simmonds has written to Members of Parliament urging them to support a Parliamentary motion calling for a freeze in beer duty in the Budget on 20th March, to help support 2,000+ jobs in pubs.

The BBPA chose science and technology research institute Campden BRI to brew the beer, and asked why the association didn't opt for a more publicly recognized brewer, Williams said: "We have close links with them going back many years, and knew they'd do an excellent job producing a beer for Parliament."

'A great beer that showcases a great British industry'

Ed Wray, Campden BRI’s brewer and maltster at the firm's brewing division in Nutfield, Surrey, chose to brew a traditional, British IPA using two new British hops – Jester and Endeavour.

“We were honoured to be asked by the BBPA to create this special beer for Parliament. Our pilot brewery, pilot maltings and bottling plant are normally used by companies to assist with their new product development. But as our facilities can brew up to 100 liters of beer, they were ideal for creating this limited edition ale," he said.

Campden BRI says's the beer's soft, sweet, biscuit malt base is complemented by hints of caramel and fresh citrus, grapefruit and tropical fruits. More citrus, orange aromas and spicy, marmalade character are then balanced with a clean, bitter, dry finish.

Brigid Simmonds, CEO of BBPA said: "To celebrate the great achievement of the 2013 cut in beer duty, [Campden BRI] have come up trumps, with a truly unique beer for MPs. It’s a great beer that showcases a great British industry.”