Beer is a universal language of sorts. Beer lovers from all over the world can gather in a pub, and thought they may not speak the same spoken language, they can get bond over a cold pint. Nowhere is beer a more important part of society than in Britain. Beer is the national drink and pubs dot the cities like spots on a Dalmatian pup. It is understandable then that some Brits find it a little insulting that a Dutch beer has been chosen as the official beer of the Summer Olympic Games in London later this month. Dutch lager Heineken was chosen by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) as the official beer of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat Party Member and the chair of the “All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group” recently vehemently criticized the IOC for its lack of sensitivity by choosing Heineken over a more British brew.
“Beer is the UK’s national drink,” Mulholland said. “And the country has a strong and ancient tradition of brewing; by choosing a mass produced bland foreign lager, the committee has ignored all the wonderful, traditional beers that the UK has to offer and instead gone for the company with the biggest [check] book.”
The Parliamentarian went on to say, “The Olympic Games is a prime opportunity for Britain to showcase the best of British, including the opportunity to promote its traditional beers and its thriving brewing industry. By opting for Heineken as the official beer, the opportunity has been lost. The decision is completely at odds with the strong positive British identity of the bid and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics.”
Heineken, based in The Netherlands, defended itself with a statement released to The Drinks Business, an industry news organization. In part the statement reads, “Heineken is proud to have been chosen as an official supplier and partner to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, building on an association that goes back 20 years.”
The company also released a statement to the Guardian the United Kingdom-based news organization that speaks to the company’s intention to sell British brews as well. “”In addition to Heineken lager, we will supply London 2012 venues with the nation’s favourite ale, British-brewed John Smith’s, and the nation’s favourite cider, British-made Strongbow.”
John Smith’s and Strongbow, while made in Britain, are owned by Heineken. Heineken employs 2,500 people in the UK, many of whom previously worked for Scottish and Newcastle, which the brewing giant has taken over.
The Dutch brewery added that its scale allows it to meet the logistical challenge of supplying the 45 licensed venues that will host the 2012 London Games.
This is not the first time the Dutch beer brewer has raised the ire of Brits either. Earlier this year it was announced that British icon, and super spy James Bond, will quaff a Heineken in “Skyfall” the next Bond film to be released later this year.
In the end, Brits and others who attend the Olympics and want to drink a beer as they enjoy the spectacle will have little choice. Most will merely fork over the 4.20 pounds the brews will cost, smile and in that most British of behaviors, endure it.