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

The Beer Rep Cometh

A band of aggres­sive beer sales­men seems to have passed through our neck of the woods, or maybe a new cash-and-car­ry has opened?

Some cornershop beers
Some cor­ner­shop beers

A band of aggres­sive beer sales­men seems to have passed through our neck of the woods, or maybe a new cash-and-car­ry has opened?

At any rate, the range of beers avail­able at fair­ly ordi­nary cor­ner shops and gro­cers near our house has expand­ed mas­sive­ly in recent weeks.

Here’s a par­tial list of bot­tled beers we can buy on the way home from work with­out going near a super­mar­ket:

  • Grolsch Weizen (big thumbs up from Bai­ley, Boak not so excit­ed)
  • Jen­nings Cock­er Hoop, Cum­ber­land and Sneck Lifter
  • Bateman’s Com­bined Har­vest and Vic­to­ry
  • All the Bad­gers, includ­ing unsea­son­al Pump­kin
  • Young’s Bit­ter (bot­tle con­di­tioned), Spe­cial Lon­don and Choco­late Stout
  • Wych­wood Hob­gob­lin, Wychcraft, Black Wych, Cir­cle Mas­ter and Goliath
  • Hen’s Tooth
  • Cooper’s Sparkling Pale Ale
  • Theakston’s Old Peculi­er
  • Shep­herd Neame Whit­stable Bay, Spit­fire, Bishop’s Fin­ger, Mas­ter Brew and 1698
  • Fuller’s Lon­don Pride, ESB, Gold­en Pride, Hon­ey Dew and 1845
  • Svy­tu­rys Ekstra, Gin­tari­nis and Bal­tas
  • Balti­ka porter, wheat beer, dark lager and helles
  • Pil­sner Urquell
  • Bud­var and Bud­var Dark
  • Pit­field Red Ale, Stock Ale and EKG
  • Gulpen­er Rose (eugh!)
  • Paulan­er Helles
  • Brak­s­pear Organ­ic and Triple
  • St Austell Prop­er Job and Trib­ute
  • Balti­ka porter, dark lager and wheat beer
  • Usher’s Founders Ale.

That cov­ers a great many of our day-to-day needs, but it would be nice to see more porters and stouts; more Bel­gian beer; and the return of Brook­lyn Lager, which has dis­ap­peared from our local off licence.

And, of course, there is a bit of an illu­sion of choice here, because many of these beers are very sim­i­lar in taste and appear­ance and, in some cas­es, are made and owned by a hand­ful of umbrel­la com­pa­nies.

The Duke of Cambridge organic pub

The Duke of Cambridge organic pub's trendy blue barThe Duke of Cam­bridge in Isling­ton is a restaurant/pub which prides itself on its eth­i­cal cre­den­tials. Nine­ty-five per cent of its fruit and veg comes from the UK; every­thing, from the oil in the can­dles to the wash­ing up liq­uid, is organ­ic; every­thing is Fair Trade.

The place itself is all stripped wood, black ceil­ings and pot plants, but also full of sun­light and fresh air. The staff were friend­ly (we got a ‘Hel­lo!’ on enter­ing), even if they did make us feel rather lumpy and unglam­orous. The clien­tele is solid­ly mid­dle class – so much so, in fact, that they’d passed beyond suits and into expen­sive­ly scruffy design­er casu­als.

Bailey’s Dad wouldn’t like it, let’s put it that way.

In line with their eth­i­cal mis­sion, the pub’s own­ers get most of their beer from brew­eries in the south east of Eng­land, name­ly St Peter’s and Pit­field. We’d nev­er seen Pit­field beers on tap, but were very impressed. These beers do not suf­fer at all from being organ­ic!

The Pit­field SB (the first organ­ic bit­ter in the UK, appar­ent­ly) tast­ed a lit­tle sweet on its own, but with fish and chips sud­den­ly gained a new dimen­sion – dri­er, crisper and with more appar­ent hop aro­ma.

We also worked our way through Pit­field East Kent Gold­ings (Sum­mer Light­ning-like), Eco-War­rior (sweet and cit­rusy); St Peter’s Organ­ic; and Pit­field lager (fruity, malty, very pleas­ant).

But the real rev­e­la­tion was a bot­tle of Pitfield’s N1 Wheat Beer. Corian­der seed, orange peel and hops gave it a pro­nounced Bel­gian flavour, but dark­er malt made sure this was no mere Hoe­gaar­den clone. Poper­ings Hom­mel­bier sprang to mind, in fact.

In short, a love­ly place to go if you fan­cy a treat (it’s not cheap) on a sum­mer evening… of if you’re a tick­er miss­ing a few of Pitfield’s beers from your col­lec­tion.

The Duke of Cam­bridge is at 30 St Peter’s Street, ten min­utes walk from Angel tube sta­tion. The pho­to above is from their web­site.