Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 04, 2007

Sleeman's Brews 'The Bard's Beer' in Honour of Shakespeare Festival

If Shakespeare were alive today, what would his beer of choice look and taste like? Sleeman Breweries has a pretty good idea; it has just brewed a special new beer in honour of the Bard and the regional “Shakespeare — Made in Canada” festival.

“The Bard’s Beer” was officially tapped today during a special event held at the Shakespeare Arms pub and restaurant in Guelph. The new draft beer will be available at local pubs and restaurants during the festival’s duration, January through May, with proceeds going to support the festival.

“Sleeman Breweries is very pleased to support the ‘Shakespeare — Made in Canada’ festival and has produced a limited edition ale for the event that was inspired by this storied period in history,” said Ed McCallum, director of brewing and development for Sleeman’s four breweries.

“Beer and Ale was an integral part of everyday life in Shakespeare’s time. In fact, Shakespeare's own father was a conner or ale-tester. I think he would approve of this brew,” said McCallum, who has been in the brewing industry for more than 30 years and is a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

The “Shakespeare — Made in Canada” festival is in honour of the Sanders portrait — believed by many to be the only image of Shakespeare painted while he was alive — coming to the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (MSAC) for a six-month exhibition. In celebration, U of G, the City of Guelph, the Stratford Festival, Guelph Arts Council, and MSAC have teamed up to promote a series of regional cultural events.

“The Sanders portrait may have been painted in England centuries ago, but it’s truly a Canadian treasure,” said president Alastair Summerlee. “The exhibit and festival are community efforts and support like what we are receiving from Sleeman’s today is crucial to the endeavour. So by buying a pint of ‘The Bard’s Beer,’ people are helping bring this national gem to Guelph.”

The Sanders portrait has been in Canadian Lloyd Sullivan’s family for more than 400 years and was once stored under his English grandmother’s bed. It is thought to depict the Bard at age 39. Sullivan inherited it from his mother in 1972. It’s believed that Shakespeare sat for an ancestor of Sullivan's, an unknown actor and painter called John Sanders, in 1603. The portrait has been confirmed by forensic studies to date from around 1600.

The Sanders portrait was the subject of the 2001 book Shakespeare's Face. It's also the signature image of U of G's Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project (CASP), which has the largest and most complete website in the world dedicated to showing the playwright's cultural influence on Canada and is headed by Guelph English professor Daniel Fischlin.

In addition to the MSAC exhibit, the five-month-long festival will include theatrical and musical performances, a speakers' series and children's educational programs.

A full listing of events is available online.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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