Saint George’s Day is sometimes mockingly referred to as Saint Patrick’s Day Lite but there seems to be a slow swing towards making it a big day, particularly in England.
In his entertaining book “A beer a day: 366 beers to help you through the year”, Jeff Evans had this to say about Saint George and the day which now bears his name:
“George’s story begins around the year 270 with his birth in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Not much is known about George, except that he was raised as a Christian and became a Roman solider. When the pagan Emperor Diocletian stepped up his persecution of Christians, George rebelled, declared his faith and was beheaded for his frankness.” He was killed in 303AD.
Jeff continues “George subsequently became patron saint of numerous countries, including Lithuania, Georgia and Portugal. His English connections date back to a visit he is supposed to have made while on Roman duty, but his position in English society was considerably strengthened when King Richard I adopted St George’s emblem of a red cross on a white background during the Crusades. George then replaced Edward the Confessor as the country’s patron saint in the 14th Century.” From purely a marketing perspective, Saint Edward the Confessor’s Day would have been a tough sell.
It is fair to say that Jeff is somewhat sceptical about George’s monster-slaying exploits saying “The legend of his slaying a dragon is even more obscure, and is probably just a metaphor for good – in the form of the steadfast George – defeating evil, in the shape of the fiery monster.” Personally, I prefer the alternative explanation that it is a legend because dragons are not, in fact, real.
He also chronicles the current lack of traction Saint George’s Day has in dear old Blighty. “It’s infuriating for English patriots. They witness the Welsh, Irish and Scots take great pride in their national saints’ days, but see only apathy at home when it comes to celebrating the day dedicated to Saint George. They’d like it to be declared officially a public holiday but surveys repeatedly show that many English people don’t even know the date of their saint’s day, let alone feel the urge to use it as way of bonding a nation,” he writes.
Naturally, English brewers are generally very supportive of promoting Saint George’s Day. Right at the vanguard is Wells and Young’s, particularly through their Bombardier brand. On their website, there is a coat of arms designed to sum up what it means to be English. The link is at the bottom of the post. This coat of arms includes Queen Victoria (dressed as Robin Hood), Les Dawson (dressed as the Queen), pork pies, the Red Arrows, a bulldog, white cliffs of Dover, a teapot, a whippet, Punch and Judy, sausages and a bowler hat.
While it is a credible first cut at portraying the essence of Englishness, there are a number of English icons missing. Off the top of the head, these could include Sir Michael Freakin’ Caine, a stiff upper lip, Katie Price, wealthy footballers in handcuffs, Crazy Frog, eel pie, a pile of ASBOs *, Jeremy Clarkson’s trousers, the Millennium Wheel ** and Hugh Grant’s fringe. Hopefully, the logo will be updated next year to reflect David Cameron’s new England. ***
For Saint George’s Day on 23rd April Malthouse will open at 10am and serve the Full Monty breakfast all day as well as Fish and Chips. Famous English ales Fuller’s London Pride and Fuller’s ESB will be on tap. There will be classic comedy on screen and, speaking of funny, Colin, the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Proprietor and Unbelievably Proud New Dad, will buy any patron on the day in full Morris Dancing gear a malt whisky. That offer is, unsurprisingly, a Malthouse exclusive.
People of all nationalities are welcome to celebrate Saint George’s Day at Malthouse but management must insist on a strict “no dragons” policy for fire safety reasons.
* Anti-Social Behaviour Orders
** The Wheel is broken Wednesday to Sunday and all Bank Holidays
*** Did you see what I did there?
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Jeff Evan’s “A beer a day: 366 beers to help you through the year” – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beer-Day-Jeff-Evans/dp/185249235X
Wells Bombardier “Coat of Arms” – http://www.bombardier.co.uk/#/advertising/
Fuller’s Brewery – http://www.fullers.co.uk/
Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz/blog/blog.html
Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/