Just a quick progress update on the Crown Saga…
Day 20 of my current quest into verifying the history of Crown Lager and still no correspondence has been received from CUB to provide any supporting evidence as to their long-standing claims about the history of their flagship premium beer. They haven’t even refused to comment. So, the independent research continues.
As has been outlined in Chapters One and Two, I think we can safely dispose of the myth that it was first brewed in 1919. This seems to waste a perfectly good trademark, given AUSTRALIAS FINEST SINCE 1919 CROWN LAGER was trademarked in 2009. But it does leave open the possibility for someone to register the trademark AUSTRALIA’S FINEST SINCE 1914, which is currently unclaimed. If anyone was interested in resurrecting old brands, then FOSTER’S CROWN LAGER seems to be unregistered and is a truly historical brand.
I think we can also dispose of the myth that it wasn’t available to the public until 1954, given Fosters Crown Lager (as it was known until some time in the 1960s) was widely advertised from 1914 and was even price regulated in 1949.
The one CUB-propagated myth that continues to elude me is the claim that it was reserved exclusively for visiting diplomats and Australian ambassadors. This is often paired with the claim that the beer was “commissioned” to honour visiting dignitaries. As CUB have been unwilling to provide any information to back up this claim, and I am unwilling to accept that they would make it up entirely, I have hit the books again trying to track down any mention of a diplomatic beer. I will be writing to the Department of Foreign Affairs to see if they have any record of commissioning a beer to honour visiting ambassadors and diplomats, or can find any purchase orders for large quantities of a special beer for their embassies. In the meantime I have also started to sift through declassified historical correspondence to see if I can find any reference to Crown Lager.
For example, on 27th November 1924, R.G.Casey – Prime Minister Stanley Bruce’s recently installed political liaison officer in London – wrote the PM a private and rather gossipy note upon his arrival in London:
27th November, 1924
My dear P.M.,
I write this private note to tell you that I have arrived-and am over the most acute stage of official introductions-Sir J.C.  has been most helpful from the start-and is making the way easy as far as he can. I think quite luckily Shepherd (Official Secretary)  is away in Geneva (Opium Conference) – and I am installed in an office (particularly good one too) in Australia House – but not of it. Once Sir J.C. became seized of your intentions with regard to direct communications with me-he set about having the matter put down in black & white-and on file for the Official Secretary. The latter apparently always sets about a newcomer in order to get him into his official clutches-but in this case there should be no heartburnings on his part-as the whole position is cut & dried-and clear cut-& he will come back and find me installed & my method of working clearly proscribed-as far as he is concerned at any rate.
I am writing officially to P.M.’s Department today-saying what has happened. All one can say in addition is that I have had a cordial reception & protestations of all assistance & cooperation in carrying out what you want -from Amery , Chamberlain  and Baldwin.  I am glad you agree with the suggestion that I should go into Hankey’s  office-as it seems the best solution from this end -The F.O. is really overcrowded -it is not a bluff to keep one out. And I think Hankey’s office is a better location from other viewpoints.
There is a favourite story that is apparently retailed to all newcomers -I have had it from both Amery & Chamberlain-as well as from Leeper -to the general effect that a certain Foreign Secretary in conversation with a leading press personage in one of the lobbies of the House of Commons was suddenly asked ‘Why ever did you decide to do so & so?’-Look of surprise on Foreign Secretary who is made to say ‘Who told you that?’-followed by publication next day-as to the Government’s intentions in this direction which had been previously secret. The morals the young man is supposed to draw from this story are many.
There is nothing much more to say at this stage-except that the search for a flat & a car is rather wearing-too few of the one and too many of the other.
I hope soon to be installed with main office at 2 Whitehall Gardens and another to fall back on at Australia House.
Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY
1 Sir Joseph Cook, Australian High Commissioner.
2 M. L. Shepherd, Official Secretary to the Australian High Commissioner.
3 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and (from 11 June 1925) for Dominion Affairs.
4 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.
5 Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister.
6 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.
7 A. W. A. (Allen) Leeper, Australian-born diplomat, then First Secretary at the Legation in Vienna. Earlier in 1924 he had been seconded to Melbourne to advise S. M. Bruce on the administration of the External Affairs Branch. A brother, R. W. A. (Rex) Leeper, was at the time First Secretary at the Legation in Riga.
8 Location of the offices of the Cabinet.
I was really hoping that in just such a letter I might find a line that reads:
“There is nothing much more to say at this stage-except that the search for a flat & a car is rather wearing-too few of the one and too many of the other, but I can’t get enough of these Crownies that you sent. That extra lagering really does make it better than the usual stuff. The only trick is to keep it away from the servants. We just couldn’t have them drinking this good stuff that’s just reserved for us, what! Toodlepips for now.
But I have yet to turn anything up. I will forge on with my research and keep you posted.