"Superbly refreshing, with a unique malty sweet flavour, balanced with a hoppy bitterness and the aroma of freshly harvested grain."
Since 1971, Carling has been Britain's best-selling beer. Although I do not generally believe that popular opinion is always the best, it seems to me that this lager is number one for several valid reasons.
The lager was firsy brewed in Canada under prohibition. The original brand name was Black & White Lager Beer. A series of name changes since then led to Carling Black Label, which lasted until 1998, when it was decided that a more punchy title was needed. Only in 1954 was the lager exported to Britain. Post-War British pubs did their biggest trade in bitter, so Carling received something of a lukewarm reception. In 1959, for example, it made up only 2% of beer sales in the UK.
The 1960s saw the growth of what has been called the black and white love juice into a real force on the beer market. Two mergers meant that by 1967 Carling was available nationwide. Another factor, possibly, was the growth of the package holiday market. People were experiencing lager - many for the first time - whilst on holiday in Europe. Thus was born the lager lout tradition?
In 1988 Carling became the first brand to sell two million barrels. By 1998, the figure was three million, a record never yet equalled by any other beer. These staggering sales figures meant that Carling was selling nearly 40% more than its nearest rival, Foster's. Last year (2001), a whapping four million barrels of the nation's favourite lager were consumed.
A pint of Carling and a football match seem to go hand in hand amongst Britain's lager-drinking youth. In the past, the brand has been an official sponsor of the English Premier League, and it maintains its links with the sport on many levels. Many a pisser has arisen out of a footie match and a few pints of Carling in the pub.
We mustn't forget The Carling Weekend. No, it's not just a piss-up, but a two-venue music festival. It is the largest of its kind in the world, with gigs taking place in both Leeds and Reading over the summer.
If you ask me, it is not Carling's clever marketing strategies which have given it its place as the king of beers (at least in Britain). The fact that a pint of the black and white love juice can be purchased for under £2 in some pubs is also a factor. Similarly, its wide availability must help (although, bizarrely, it is more or less impossible to buy a Carling on draught in Scotland). The lager has a crisp, refreshing flavour, and, at just 4.1% volume, it can be drunk in fairly large quantities.
Cheers to www.bassbrewers.com for facts and figures.