Beer duty – time to drop it, Darling?

August 9, 2009 at 20:38 (News commentary, Pub industry) (, , , , , , , )

The British Broadcasting Corporation – what a fuck off piece of British engineering.

Just look at the damn thing, fantastic website, unparalleled news channel, cracking radio array, wonderful thought provoking BBC2/4 dramas that regularly gives a quick peek of nipple, but in an artistic manner that allows us to counter the old “you’re a dirty perv” charge. Honestly, Id marry the Beeb if I wasn’t already set on wedding Jennifer Ellison, once the court order has been lifted.

This week the BBC Online’s magazine  section turfed up an excellent piece, no doubt sponsored by CAMRA‘s press office, looking at the latter’s call for cuts in the UK’s extortionate beer duties on low alcohol brews. The argument is blissfully simple. New competition laws from the EU allow member states to fiddle about more with their duties, the upshot being that our Thunderbird Chancellor, Alistair Darling, could scrap them altogether on beers that come in below 2.8%. This according to CAMRA would knock 60p off the average pint.

The cut could potentially give a swift kick in the balls to a host of problems – it’ll make guzzling less expensive for the consumer, draw a new group of people to ales, support the UK’s struggling pint industry and, Christ on a bike, even satisfy the health lobby, as this quote from Alcohol Concern demonstrates:

“Having more lower strength drinks on the market allows people to enjoy a night out while making it easier to stay within safe drinking guidelines,” says the charity’s chief executive, Don Shenke

But then just before I reach a lathering climax in pops a couple of ugly munters to reduce me back to flaccid – or apparently so anyway.

The article goes on at great length to pour water on the potential for low alcohols to take off with Joe Public. Partly this is because the lager efforts mostly taste shite, and I’m afraid I agree with that. Have you tried C2 from Carling for example? No? Well fucking don’t, its watered down water that has been sieved through some more water. None of the other low lagers are much better and they’ve been this way since they were dreamed up in the 80s. This has left the whole enterprise with a significant image problem even though we are all supposed to be cutting out fags, kebabs, condensed crack and glue sniffing in these health fascist times.

However, this is surely only part of the picture. For a start while Id rather drink my grandmothers colostomy bag than have a Stella light or whatever its called – ales and bitters are a different matter. As CAMRA’s own findings show people are much more up for these kind of tipples (55% apparently) and therefore it is very simplistic to say there is not a market for low alcohol stuff. Besides, despite the hindrance of the lagers being a load of donkey testicles, there is evidence that this small market is growing, if at a slugs pace.

Of course, I’m not saying everyone will take to low alcohol brews and while the lager market remains dominated by crap tasting lagers, millions will be switched off. But the more fruity and fuller ale market has some real potential that could be unleashed by Darling being a gent, taking the EU up and cutting its beer duties. Doing so would tick all the boxes – health, industry, job and good old fairness.

So come on Virgil, do us and small brewers a favour – cut the bloody tax.

Permalink Leave a Comment

If only alochol units were as consistent as Katie Price’s knicker dropping

August 5, 2009 at 10:43 (News commentary) (, , , , , )

I like my certainty. I like the fact that the sun sets every day, that Tuesday follows Monday, that the French are always on strike and that every evening sees Katie Price taking her “I’m the nation’s bike” tour to an all new pub car park. 

The Tories brought another warm feeling of consistency at the weekend when David “please hug me quick” Cameron confirmed that the New Tories are still more than happy to spread their butt cheeks to the highest bidder, this time by selling off Radio One.Now come on Mr Cameron – sorry, I mean Davey – I want to launch Chris Moyles out of a massive fucking cannon as much as the next man, but do we really have to auction off Fearne Cotton and Edith Bowman just so you can afford some tax cuts for all your house chums at Eton?

However, one area where there isn’t much good olde British clarity is in that thorny issue of what we are all chucking down our necks in our local boozer every Friday night. Or, as my erstwhile friend Mr Twat puts it beautifully: what the fuck do alcohol units actually mean?

At the weekend a very smart man, Dr Nick Sheron, brought us an answer – basically its all bollocks. The current guidelines on consumption were made up by a bunch of non-medical civil servants and have been changed more often that Katie Price’s fuck buddy. The Royal Colleges meanwhile appear so confused about everything that one suspects that might actually be pissed themselves.

Nobody it seems has the faintest idea what level of alcohol consumption should be or how much the health lobby should be pushing rest periods – and there are further complications not touched on by Dr Sheron. For example, the measurements you get in pubs varies drastically. A small in your local boozer will probably have less alcohol units in it than the same small in city centre chain pub, as the latter often chucks in more of the good stuff (in order, its alleged, to get you more pissed and thereby spending more dosh). Judging how much youre actually consuming is therefore close to impossible on a night out.

This is all annoying because as drinkers we are faced on a daily basis with a barrage from the powers that be, who smugly tell us that were drinking too much, that its causing the collapse of society, undermining the NHS and probably in some way leading to a massive reduction in the fluffy kitten population. We – that’s you and me – are once again being told were the equivalent of mentally retarded cabbages.

Well fine, if that is the case, why doesn’t somebody get ministers, the drinks industry and doctors to sit round a big bloody table and come up with a definitive guide to alcohol consumption so that all of us can judge how much we want to drink. At the moment the health profession is practising a form of ghettoisation, throwing out different guidance while the Department of Health produces lovely little gimmicky web resources like the Drinkaware site calculator which contradicts the views of some doctors.

If I’m going to be patronised then fine, Ill open a jumbo bag of cashews and get over it. But please, at least patronise me with facts and learning, not confused bollocks.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Sunday wrap up – slippers, 18% beer, Alex-Sim Wise, Cecil the dwarf and special brew chasers

August 2, 2009 at 21:55 (News commentary) (, , , , , , )

You cant beat an English Sunday. Slippers, silk dressing gown, radio four, milky way ready to dip into your special brew chaser … agh, this is the life.

Time for a quick wrap up from the week, not least so I can update on those Scottish lads who managed to make the pain of the Rantzen go away. Dreamt I was the last sperm producing male on earth last night and had to choose between her and a pug nosed dwarf called Cecil. Probably best I leave it there, which ironically is what Cecil said at one point.

Anyway, if Id done my research properly I would have discovered why the 18% beer is called Tokyo – as the lads explain it themselves on their blog via YouTube. Its down to some kind of 1980s arcade game from Japan … didn’t get all the rest as I don’t speak Jock so checked out after a while. Still as I said yesterday, good luck to the lads and will someone please get them on TV …

In other news, a long night on a park bench with three bottles of Tesco value vodka lead to the opening of a Twitter account, which Ive mainly used to perv over the lovely Alex Sim-Wise. Again get her on TV, though I’m probably thinking of a 18+ subscription service this time …

I have also been whoring it round the net, going ape shit on the London Echo over Rantzen again (damn you woman!), congratulating Graham Jones on another great post, taking a pot shot at that one eyed goat fiddler Mullah Omar and making a terrible Carry On joke about parking a bike in between Michelle Marsh’s chesticles.

Anyway Qunicy is just about to start on UK Fossil so I’m off. Love that programme. Total bollocks of course. If you had a loved one caught up in a life threatening situation the last thing you’d want is for the copper to say – “it is going to be fine, I know who we need – sergeant, call for the coroner!”

Permalink Leave a Comment

18% beer – still better for you than Esther Ranzten

August 1, 2009 at 19:41 (News commentary) (, , , , )

I’m recovering from a night on the toilet duck so what I might be about to write could in fact be bollocks. It certainly sounds like bollocks – Esther Ranzten is apparently going to run for Parliament.

I don’t know when this country started to go wrong – pretty sure it was around the time Ant and Dec were let out of the idiot factory – but this news really does take the kebab stick. Have we really sunk to the stage where people who built a career around sticking cats on television that could fart to the tune of “she’ll be coming round the mountain” are considered serious material for the mother of all Parliaments?

Take her numb skull interview on the Beeb where she says she sees it as an “adventure”. Yes, because that’s what I want from my Parliamentarian. I want them to be approaching the job as if it’s a day out at Butlins rather than sorting out why my street is knee deep in dogshit.

All this madness has made me amenable to the brain smashing qualities of a new beer launched this week by a couple of plucky lads up in Scotland – the Tokyo. No idea why it’s been given such an unimaginative title (please God tell me they’re not trying to be trendy), but it caused quite a stir because of its alcohol content, a cool 18%. Predictably this spurred some sustained banshee wailing from sections of the health professional lobby and that obviously teetotal section of society, journalists.

No one it seems bought the lad’s explanation that the beer would reduce binge drinking, instead reasoning the complete opposite. And to be fair whoever does the brewery’s PR needs to be taken outside and given a moderate beating because it was a terrible bit of spiel that was bound to get castrated with a meat clever as soon as it hit the media bubble (assuming it wasn’t a cunning rouse to get any form of publicity, even of the bad variety – in which case it worked). 

However, it has to be said that there is a bit of hypocritical mincing going on here from the media and the general wailing majority.

For a start I always object to getting moral lectures about my health from journalists who are the biggest group of piss heads and coke snorters on the face of the planet. There are, as usual, a few facts dumped from the picture by most, like how the beer is only on a small run and avaliable from the brewery itself, Brewdog.

But my main beef is what is exactly the difference between this kind of beverage and the cascade of brain rot that sits behind most bartenders in every pub, club and cheesed up bar in this country? You go into any late night establishment around 1am and you will find a crèche full of chaved up muppets chucking all kinds of pure – probably flaming – concoctions down their throats. Just because it comes in a small glass doesn’t mean it isn’t potent – and that goes for supposedly more refined “drams” or “toddies” that send a good proportion of the middle age demography to sleep each night.  

This new beer is not irresponsible nor does it spell the end of civilisation as we know it. Its a different, new invention from a small local brewery thats got a bit of nerve to produce something different. So Im off to order a couple of cases – who knows, three bottles in and I might even stop thinking that Rantzen is an unbareable tit.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The end of the British pub industry – pubs to blame?

July 30, 2009 at 21:43 (News commentary, Pub industry) (, , )

I was in my silk dressing gown this morning, enjoying a dawn pick me up of yager bomber and last night’s reheated smack*, when I surfed across the latest depressing figures from the BBPA about the state of the British pub industry.

 The facts are as hideous as a Bulgarian pin up. 52 pubs going under each week. 24,000 buxom barmaids and buck teethed bar men on the dole. A total of £1.53 million added to the tax bill from the accompanying fall out.

Awful stuff on face value, so upsetting I almost dropped my crack pipe. Rising above it all is the horrible spectre articulated by the news hub Ananova – which I initially thought was a pornstar’s website – in short, are we seeing the end of the great British pub? And if so what is the cause? The dirty smoking ban that got so many people in a lather on the Times typically hysterical comment thread?

I do despise that whining idiot Michael Winner – a man who looks like he’s been fashioned out of play doh by a blind child – but to borrow a line from his suicide inducing commercials, calm down dear.

The figures are not good and clearly there are problems. Liberal Conspiracy put together an interesting article on the monopoly system in the pub industry – damning stuff, though Ill be honest I don’t understand half of it. Must have been off school the day they did advanced marco-pub finance across sectoral market divides.  We are also in a recession and hence it was inevitable that there would be some blood on the brewery floor – the economic downturn is a dirty bitch that affects us all.

Ultimately, though, while all this is woe – including the government’s daft beer duties which require you to remortgage your house to buy a G&T – the fact is there are clear cultural changes at play which I’m afraid a lot of pubs only have themselves to blame for not following.

Im a man who likes the traditional pub – roaring fires, beardy ales, brass ornaments, wood panelling, barmaids with jugs you could park a bike in – that sort of thing. And I fervently despise the chain wank that infests our green and pleasant land, just have a gander at my recent review of the sloppy turd that is All Bar One near Tower Bridge.

But the fact is the chain’s are doing well because theyre catering for where the market is in the drinking world we now live in. They produce reasonable food in a family environment with lots of deals and an assortment of targeted tipples served by well trained staff.

Now I can sense that youve got an urge to cover your monitor in vomit after reading that last para. Truth be told I myself have just chucked a bit of sick over my crotch.

But, however unpleasant it is, the truth is that there are not enough people wanting to go to sawdust and spit pubs anymore. The Korean war has finished, we have colour TVs and we don’t live in 1954. People don’t on the whole do 18 hour shifts in steel factories and then want to go to a smoke filled cubby hole every night rather than face the sour faced trout in their one bedroom house who they’ve been spunking kids out of since they were 17. Britain has changed and to be honest Ive been in plenty of run down, poorly managed shit holes with no fucking invention or creativity that are stuck in a crap lined time warp.

When I look at the 52 pubs figure I see maybe three decent pubs going down the pan out of that number – the rest are probably boozers I wouldn’t leave my dog or my mother in law in.

That isn’t to say we all need to strip naked, paint our arseholes blue and run round the totem pole of Weatherspoons. There is a market for this shit and fair enough, but there is also clearly a market for pubs with character. Whether it’s the Ribs of Beef in Norwich or the Windsor Castle in Marble Arch – do it right and they will turn up, hand over coins and keep you going.

Im sure there are plenty of people who’ll disagree with this. Fair enough, but what’s your answer? Bring in restrictive tenancy laws against chain pubs that will be shot to pieces – quite rightly – by European competition laws? Subsidise the pub industry? And where is that money going to come from, the Pound fairy?

* This is a flippant comment and I am not in anyway endorsing the use of illegal drugs. I myself have only been spaced out once and that was down to misjudging a dose of cough medicine.

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Carling and minimum pricing – a load of balls?

July 27, 2009 at 22:32 (News commentary) (, , )

More condensed shite today from our friends at the Daily Nutcase.

They have taken time off from persecuting single mothers, asylum seekers and brown people to put together a piece of frolicking froth about Carling’s parent company Molson Coors wanting a minimum pricing regime for alcohol products in the UK.

Wonderful PR for the company – as it appears on face value that this selfless corporation with more money than God has decided to slice itself off from the supermarkets and other big breweries in a noble attempt to save the nation’s livers. There they are, shaking their head wistfully, muttering “it must be done”, before unzipping their trousers, dropping the under garments below and raising their butt cheeks in the air for a bit of firm regulation rogering. The message appears to be clear – Molson Coors is taking a big hard one for the team.

All very good … but unfortunately I smell the shit of bull. Leaving aside some of the dubious claims in the article (Molson Coors have been working with the BMA and the CMO have they? Methinks not sunshine…) the fact is that if this change was to be enacted it is extremely unlikely that Coors’ brands would be hit because if they were you could bet your left bollock Coors would be retracting their flies faster than you could say “profit warning ahoy”.

Although minimum pricing is a very vague proposal at the moment, the Government and the health professional lobby have made it clear they are targeting the tramp tipples – the low grade white lightening kind of affairs that really do sell at 50p a can and are the loss leaders for supermarkets and offies. They are not after the more medium to high end products or anything sold in pubs where breweries tend to snaffle up higher profit margins. After all politicans are not, contrary to popular opinion, morons, they know that there are votes in the aisles of Oddbins and Tescos.

A prime example is the 50p a unit proposal – all this would mean is that a pint would have to cost in your local the grand spanking total of at most  … erm, £2.50. Well, show me a collection of pubs that sells a pint for under £3 anywhere south of Doncaster and Ill show you a dancing gerbil that can give an elephant a blow job while doing the fandango.

Minimum pricing looks like it may well be headed this way as the political consensus is there and lets face it, its an easy policy to sell and implement. But will it stop 22 year old drinking themselves to death or indeed affect many people reading this page? Nope, it wont a single jot.

I have no problem with a serious debate about this issue – but can it please be conducted without the Mail giving an insincere brewery a hand shandy during the conversation?

Permalink 2 Comments