Will London 2012 take Courage?

“Remember a pint of Best? Courage do…”

Take Courage
(Photo from Flickr user paulsimpson1976.)

Oh look, it’s a knocking story about next year’s Olympics. Apparently, because the rights to serve beer in London 2012’s venues have not been awarded to Chiswick brewers Fullers, drinking at the games will feel less “British”. Fullers, of course, do the very tasty London Pride and are the last of the big traditional London breweries, so naturally they’ll want to get a bit of publicity ahead of 2012.

The rights have gone to Heineken UK – not altogether a bad thing because their flagship brand actually tastes alright, and not like pish. (Not everyone agrees, of course.) But “less British”? Really?

One of Heineken’s brands is Courage – inherited from the old Scottish Courage firm, and now co-owned with Wells & Youngs. Courage is one of the real old London beer names – founded in Bermondsey in 1787. In the 1950s it merged with the long-gone Barclay Perkins firm, who were based behind the Anchor pub on Bankside. If you travel by train through London Bridge, you’ll have seen the sign above, a remnant of that old brewery on Redcross Way, Southwark.

As late as the 1980s, “TAKE COURAGE” signs were ubiquitous on London pubs, glowing into the night. There’s still a few knocking around now. The Amersham Arms in New Cross paid tribute to this heritage when it was revamped a few years ago by calling its upstairs art gallery Take Courage.

Courage faded from view in the late 1990s, although Courage Best was relaunched a few years back when Wells & Youngs took a share in the name. You can still find a pint of Directors if you look hard enough.

So if there’s to be an ale served at London 2012… shouldn’t it be Courage? Heineken have pouring rights at The Valley, and when Charlton fans demanded an ale instead of the flat Fosters they knock out there, Courage Best was provided – and sold out. Never mind Fullers, the beer of rugby-shirted west London types – a real London Olympics should have a real London brew, surely?

Cue some 30-year-old Chas and Dave ads… (might be an omen for Spurs getting the stadium, too…)

(Of course, since most of the venues are in east London, you could argue that the Olympics should serve what used to be Brick Lane’s finest, Truman’s. But that’s another story…)

One comment

  1. Hi Darryl, Courage Best is not really a London beer any more, it is brewed by Wells & Youngs at their giant new site in Bedford. Fullers are the only London brewers who actually brew within Greater London, from their brewery in Chiswick. I too featured the old Chas & Dave Courage Best adverts on the Maggot Sandwich a while back – classics!

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