86-year-old ale brewed for cancelled Edward VIII coronation to be auctioned

 (Greene King)
(Greene King)

Rare bottles of 86-year-old ale brewed but left unopened since the cancelled coronation of Edward VIII will now go to auction.

A workman stumbled upon the cobweb-covered stash in a bricked-up cellar after being called in to replace a floor at the 200-year-old Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk in 2011.

Edward VIII reigned as king from January 1936 until December of the same year, when he abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

His coronation was abruptly cancelled and the bottles were left untouched in the dusty cellar.

The new label (Greene King)
The new label (Greene King)

To celebrate the upcoming coronation of King Charles III, several crates of the unearthed beer will be auctioned off on May 5, with all proceeds going to the charity founded by King Charles III, The Prince’s Trust.

The trust supports young people aged 11-30 from disadvantaged communities to develop essential life skills.

 (Greene King)
(Greene King)

Greene King says the beers, which would have been around 12% ABV at the time they were brewed, are no longer drinkable and will be auctioned off purely as collector’s items.

One reviewer Simon Williams, who got the “privilege” to open a bottle in 2012, said: “The smell from the glass is very deep and very rich indeed.

“A little like the richest trifle your Grandmother ever made you for Sunday tea – Big, hot sherry doused fruits, shortcake biscuit, silky custard, and a big punch of the blue veined cheese that your folks, sitting next to you, had moved on to while you had a second helping of pudding.

“There’s an obvious sourness, but it’s in no way unpleasant.”

 (Greene King)
(Greene King)

Royal historian and author, Professor Kate Williams said: “It is absolutely fascinating that these beers have been lying in the cellar for 86 years, having originally been brewed to celebrate the Coronation of Edward VIII on 12th May 1937.

“We know that when Edward succeeded his father as King in January 1936, there was already doubt in his mind that he wanted to proceed, due to his relationship with Wallis Simpson. At the time, members of the Royal Family weren’t permitted to marry divorcees, and this clearly weighed on his mind.

“The elaborate Coronation preparations took over a year to arrange, but by the time the event came around he had already abdicated, leaving the ceremony, and these celebratory beers, redundant.”

Jack Palmer, head brewer at Greene King, said: “We know a thing or two about being a King and there’s nothing like a Royal event to bring the nation together, with thousands of Brits across the UK due to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III in their local pub next month.

“We’ve been brewing beer for over 200 years and creating special brews, such as the 1937 and the 2023 coronation ales, means we can capture moments in history to share with generations further down the line.”