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

An ale that was brewed for Edward’s coronation, cancelled following his abdication of the throne, is going up for auction after being found in a bricked-up Greene King cellar.

A rare stash of bottles unearthed in a 200-year-old Greene King cellar will be auctioned on 5 May with all proceeds going to The Prince’s Trust, the charity founded by King Charles III.

The bottles of ‘Coronation Ale’ hold an important place in British history as they were created to mark the coronation of Edward VIII, uncle of Queen Elizabeth II, who abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson. At the time, members of the royal family were not permitted to wed divorcees, and Simpson had previously been married twice, meaning Edward had to choose between being King or marrying the American socialite.

Brewed using barley and English hops, Edward’s beer was consigned to Greene King’s cellars after his coronation was cancelled, where the bottles were forgotten about until a builder rediscovered them in 2011 while replacing a floor at Greene King’s brewery.

Several crates of the ale, which were “covered in cobwebs”, are available to buy in the auction, but according to Greene King, the beers, which would have been around 12% ABV at the time they were brewed, are no longer drinkable. As such they will be auctioned off purely as collector’s items.

“Edward’s 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,” said Royal historian and author, Professor Kate Williams.

Alongside selling off the historic beers, Greene King is also developing a 2023 edition of the Coronation Ale, which will be available in a range of pubs across the UK.

“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,” said Jack Palmer, head brewer at Greene King.

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