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Fourth-Place Medal

Heineken, official Olympic beer, condemned by British politician/pub advocate

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London conjures images of crowded pubs, which conjure images of pints of beer, which conjure the taste of … Heineken?

Well, not really. Which is why having the Dutch brewery's lager as the official beer for the London Olympic Games has drawn the ire of Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the "All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group," whose meetings we simply must attend one day.

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Mulholland recently blasted the IOC for its selection of Heineken, claiming it was an affront to the celebration of British culture that are the London Games, saying:

"Beer is the UK's national drink and the country has a strong and ancient tradition of brewing; by choosing a mass produced bland foreign lager, the committee has ignored all the wonderful, traditional beers that the UK has to offer and instead gone for the company with the biggest cheque book.

"The Olympic Games is a prime opportunity for Britain to showcase the best of British, including the opportunity to promote its traditional beers and its thriving brewing industry. By opting for Heineken as the official beer, the opportunity has been lost. The decision is completely at odds with the strong positive British identity of the bid and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics."

Mulholland tabled a Commons motion (essentially a topic for debate) this week that labeled the IOC's choice of Heineken as a "wholly inappropriate decision" with "the UK being one of the world's leading brewing nations."

(The Netherlands, for the record, exports a greater percentage of the beer it produces than any country in the world — 50 percent.)

Facing this type of political pushback, Heineken released this statement via The Drink Business:

"As the UK's leading beer and cider business, Heineken is proud to have been chosen as an official supplier and partner to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, building on an association that goes back 20 years.

"We are unequivocally committed to the responsible marketing of our beers and ciders and our long track record of sponsoring international sporting events like the Heineken Cup, Uefa Champions League and the Rugby World Cup bears testimony to this."

It released a short statement to the Guardian as well:

"In addition to Heineken lager, we will supply London 2012 venues with the nation's favourite ale, British-brewed John Smith's, and the nation's favourite cider, British-made Strongbow."

So Heineken is a Dutch import, but the other two brands offered at Olympic sites are made in the U.K.

But they still aren't the type of brews that symbolize London's love of beer, at least in the eyes of advocates like Greg Mulholland. The IOC should have chosen something like Carling … which is owned by Molson Coors, of course. (Awkward.)

We'll just go ahead and assume that this protest against Heineken has something to do with beer costing 7.23 pounds (or just over $11) at Olympic venues. Because on top of paying that for beer, Londoners are paying that for Dutch beer.

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