I love vintage strong beers. Last Feb I was given the amazing opportunity to drink a bottle of 1977 Bass Jubilee Ale with Stu. In November Tosh gave me a bottle of Ushers Celebration Ale , which was brewed in 1981 to celebrate the wedding of Charles and Diana.
Ushers were a family brewer based in Trowbridge Wiltshire with an estate of pubs through South East England. The usual story of the pubs becoming more valuable than the brewing business resulted in the brewery closing in 2000 after an unsuccessful employee buyout attempt. The pubs ended up being subsumed into the Punch Taverns Empire and unusually the brewery equipment was shipped out to North Korea.
In 1981 the wedding of Charles and Diana inspired a raft of Royal Celebration Ales from the brewers of Britain. The Ushers example somehow survived Thatcherite Britain, Cool Britaina, made its way to the South Pacific, slumbered its way through the craft beer revolution, through the turbulent teens and in 2020, 38 years after it was brewed I popped the top…
There was a faint hiss. Reasuring that there was to be some carbonation and more importantly that the inside of the bottle had maintained positive pressure helping to keep the rigours of the late 20th century at bay. It poured clear amber with a faint whispy head. Aromas of sweet candied malt, a hint of cream sherry, and a slight mustyness wafted up. The palate was sweet, malty , a little ovaltine, a strange perfumy imperial leather note and then a slightly metallic finish.
It was not as good as the Bass but it was still fascinating to try.