Mayor Bob Heron is following in the footsteps of a Swedish blonde – and all in the cause of making his civic guests feel welcome.
Coun Heron, who is mayor of Sunderland, has taken delivery of 12 cases of bottles of beer which have his face on the labels.
The bottles of Mayor’s Beer are from a micro-brewery based in Houghton-le-Spring. The ale in the bottles in actually Double Maxim, which was one of the best known beers produced by the Vaux Brewery in Sunderland.
When it and Wards Brewery at Sheffield closed in 1999, the Double Maxim Beer Company Ltd was set up by former Vaux and Wards employees.
The initial aim of the new business was to sell and market the famous Northern beers from the Vaux and Wards portfolio in bottles that drinkers had enjoyed for years.
Now operating from a purpose-built plant at Rainton Bridge Business Park in Houghton le Spring, the renamed Maxim Brewery thought that bottles of Mayor’s Beer would be a welcoming gesture for civic guests as well as celebrating the city’s brewing heritage.
But Coun Heron is not the first to front up a beer from the brewery.
Its Swedish Blonde beer is named after its tele-order lady Anna Goransdotter, whose face also appears on the bottle of the hoppy, light-coloured ale.
Coun Heron said: “I’m usually a lager drinker but the Mayor’s Beer is very nice. It’s going down well with guests and I’m touched by the photograph.”
One of the bottles was presented to Niall Quinn when he was awarded the freedom of the city.
“Niall said that he’d always wanted his face on the front of a bottle of beer,” said Coun Heron.
Support from Sunderland City Council’s business investment team helped the company to buy brewing equipment, and set up premises at Rainton Bridge.
Coun Heron said: “One of the most important roles of mayor is promoting our city, and taking every opportunity to tell our guests about the high quality of products and services Sunderland provides.
“I’d like to thank everyone at the brewery for their generosity and welcome this chance to promote one of the city’s most famous products. “The Double Maxim brand is famous the world over and symbolises our city’s proud brewing and manufacturing tradition, and seeing it successfully revived demonstrates our continuing regeneration.”
Double Maxim Brown Ale was first brewed in 1901 and was initially called Maxim Ale. It was created to celebrate the return of the Maxim Gun detachment from the Boer War.
Major Ernest Vaux, of the original brewing family, commanded the detachment which was part of the Northumberland Hussars. In 1938, Maxim Ale was increased in strength and renamed Double Maxim.
Managing director of Maxim breweries, Mark Anderson, said: “We are delighted that the mayor has accepted our offer of these specially labelled bottles, and given our brewery the chance to support our city.
“I believe that they’ll be offered to the many guests the mayor will welcome to our city over his term of office, and I hope they’ll enjoy this taste of Sunderland.
“Our city has a proud brewing tradition, and we hope that the success of ours and other breweries is helping revive that tradition and create more business success in Sunderland.” Maxim also produces Lambton’s, Samson, Maximus and Ward’s Best Bitter beers. It is also turning out two seasonal festive beers – Santa’s Soot and The Great Escape, featuring a label with PoWs making their bid for freedom.
“We call it the Great Escape because it’s always on at Christmas,” said Mr Anderson.