Given that it's impossible to avoid the J word this weekend, you might as well give in and buy a commemorative beer. Even if you're not a beer fan. A lot of the Jubilee ales seem to have been designed with beer newbies in mind: fruity and fragrantly hopped, made more in the current American style than the traditional British one.
Marks & Spencer comes up trumps with two offerings: Sandringham Diamond Ale(568ml, £2.59; 5% abv) is a hugely drinkable fresh, hoppy bitter made by Elgoods of Cambridge from barley grown on the Sandringham estate and – appropriately enough – Sovereign hops. M&S also has the delicious Greenwich Red Ale (750ml, £4.99; 4% abv), made by the excellent Meantime Brewery, that, while not obviously Jubilee-linked, seems perfect for the occasion. As the name suggests, it's a rich, reddish-copper and deeply fruity – perfect for bank holiday barbecues. (I like the idea of it with grilled salmon.)
Two other full-size bottles that seem particularly celebratory are Chiltern'sJubilee Sparkling Ale(£8.50; 6% abv), a full-flavoured, amber style that would be spot on with the coronation chicken. It's a limited run of 1,000 bottles, as is the more expensive St Austell Royal Diamond Jubilee Imperial IPA, from Cornwall, which comes in a champagne-style bottle and is designed to be drunk in a flute. At £12 a bottle (plus delivery), it's pricey, granted, but it's a rich, heavily hopped, full-strength style (9% abv) designed for ageing – quite similar to Deus (£16.98 beeritz.co.uk; 11.5% abv), if you're familiar with that. It would be interesting to buy a case – or split one with friends – to see how it evolves over the next five years (the suggested drink-by date is June 2017.)
A cheaper, and less alcoholic, alternative would be to make your own shandy, or my own favourite beer cocktail, which is a cross between a shandy and a Pimm's. I made the original with Plymouth Fruit Cup but a considerably cheaper alternative is Lidl's Jeeves (17.5% abv), an excellent Pimm's drinkalike at just £5.99 a litre. The proportions are roughly (adjust to taste) 25% each of Jeeves (or Pimm's No. 1) and a traditional white lemonade and 50% of a light, summery beer such as Badger'sGoldenGlory(500ml, £34.50 for a 16-bottle case, badgerdirect.com; 4.5% abv), all of them chilled. Pour over ice, add plenty of orange, lemon and cucumber slices plus a couple of sprigs of mint, and serve. Beer purists will probably be horrified at the very thought, but trust me, it's good.
Photographs: Katherine Rose for the Guardian
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