Beer history london marketing

The First Cause Beer?

These days it’s not unusual for breweries to release beers intended to support a particular cause, but we reckon we might have pinpointed the first: ‘No Cruise Mild’, from 1983-84.

It was produced by Pitfield Brewery on a tiny kit in the basement of a specialist beer shop near Old Street in London and sold through one of David Bruce’s Firkin brewpubs, The Pheasant & Firkin in Islington. The name refers to US Cruise missiles, the installation of which was protested by women’s groups at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire during December 1983.

While the name of the beer certainly showed support for the Greenham Common protesters the short article in What’s Brewing for March 1984, which is the only reference we’ve been able to dig up, doesn’t make clear whether any of the profits from its sale also went their way. It does, however, reproduce Ken Pyne’s cartoon for Marketing Week which we hope he won’t mind us sharing here:

A group of women camps outside a pub offering No Cruise Mild.

Of course there were lots of beers before this that you can argue were political in one way or another — all those commemorative beers for the 1981 royal wedding and the Queen’s coronation, for example, are political in their own way — but we reckon this might be the earliest example of a beer whose branding was explicitly tied to a progressive cause.

If you reckon we’re wrong, or have more information on this particular beer, let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading

5 replies on “The First Cause Beer?”

Whenever I see something like this I immediately think “I bet the Victorians got there first”. I bet causes like Irish independence had beers associated with them, and a number of brewers were closely involved with the campaign against the slave trade as part of the whole Nonconformist thing, such as the Cobbs of Margate :

You could argue that monasteries using the proceeds of beer sales to fund almshouses etc is a rather more practical example of using beer in support of “progressive causes” than flagwaving at Greenham Common, I couldn’t comment.

I think the most striking thing about No Cruise Mild – is that they chose to make it a mild.

Well if you want a beer that just beats your date, try this –
The French rebadged imported Pilsners during that was as “Biere de la Meuse”, so you might count that as being pro-Allied branding. I wonder if the State Brewery in Carlisle used patriotic branding, or if any other UK brewers in either World War did something similar?
I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least one beer produced in the US with anti-prohibition sentiments around WW1.

Here’s an interesting one, a 1943 label for “Victory” beer, exhorting the drinker to buy war bonds :

I guess that in WWI the brewers weren’t that happy to fly the flag for the antis running the country… Prohibition might be a good shout though, although I guess it’s a bit risky from a PR point of view.

Why do you think No Cruise was progressive? Which part of surrendering to the USSR was particularly regressive? Are you totally full on Corbyn?

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