Budget hangover

parliament.jpgSo the Budget is out, and it’s a 6% rise on alcohol duty in real terms. “4p on the pint”, as opposed to the traditional penny it’s been for the past few years. Penny increase, that is, for let us forget that we already have some of the highest alcohol tax rates in Europe.

The small brewers’ relief stays in place though, so if your favourite tipple comes from a microbrewery, it’s “only” a 2p per pint increase.

It would have been nice if they’d kept the small brewers’ rate where it was, though — it’s not as if the increase on this small section of the market will generate a huge amount of money for the Exchequer. Nor is it the case that the binge-drinking youth we’re all supposed to be scared of are noted for knocking back pints of locally-brewed real ale.

I’m not so much worried about this rise — as a Londoner, I already pay over the odds for my pint. It’s more the precedent, and the message it sends out. It suggests that the government has given in to tabloid hysteria and calls for quick fixes to the nation’s drinking problems.


PS – we’re away for the weekend, see you early next week!

Trans-Atlantic Beer Tasting Simul-Post

adnams.jpgOr, “Sadly, we don’t know Mr Bean”.

Last week, we had a pint with Wilson of Brewvana fame. We were several thousand miles apart; he was drinking at lunchtime, we’d just got home from work; and the banter was by email. It kind of worked.

We’d agreed which beers we were going to drink so that we could compare, based on the UK beers Wilson could get in Iowa, and which American beers we could get in London. Somewhat ironically, he found it easier to get hold of Adnams Bitter than we did. So the final line-up was Adnams Broadside and Anchor Porter. Here’s how it went from Wilson’s point of view, and here’s how it went from ours:

Continue reading “Trans-Atlantic Beer Tasting Simul-Post”

We don’t want Bud, we want Brooklyn!

Eric Delia at Relentless Thirst has tipped us off to the exciting news that Budweiser are launching a UK only ad campaign, focusing “on the care that goes into making Budweiser, highlighting its history and provenance.” [Pause to choke on whatever tasty beverage you’re supping at the moment.]

Fabulous. Another boring lager being (re)marketed. I didn’t really notice it go away, although I suppose now I think about it, you see more Becks around than Bud. And quite a lot of Budvar — we Brits love an underdog, although of course Budvar isn’t quite the underdog it purports to be, as Evan Rail pointed out.
images_coasters_tmb.jpgAnyway, this got me thinking about something I’ve been pondering for a while. Why doesn’t the Brooklyn brewery try a marketing campaign in London to push its wonderful lager? It would appeal on two levels. Firstly, to the discerning beer drinker who would be delighted to see it in the fridge in amongst a sea of other indistinguishable “world” lagers.

Secondly, it would surely appeal to the type of sucker who drinks any lager as long as it’s in a bottle and comes from another country. This is a big market, at least in London, given the number of identical ranges in central London pubs — Peroni, San Miguel, Corona, Brahma etc.

If good marketing can polish turds like Bud, Magners and all those bland eurolagers, imagine the effect it could have on something that’s a genuinely great product? In fact, the Magners adverts aren’t even good. We mugs really will buy anything.


Mann’s Brown Ale and a call for suggestions


UPDATE APRIL 2013: Apparently, ASDA and Morrison’s sell it, if you’re looking to buy some, as apparently many of you are!

Mann’s Brown Ale is not something you see many people drinking in its own right. Traditionally, it’s used in a ‘brown split’ with ordinary bitter — in other words, to give a bit of oomph to that half a pint of flat, brown keg beer you’ve been thinking about abandoning for fifteen minutes.

But Michael Jackson lists it in his 500 Great Beers book and, at 2.8%, we wondered if it might not fit be just the trick for school nights, when a hangover is simply not an option.

As you can see, it looks nice in the glass — very dark brown, almost black, with an off-white head. The body is remarkable for such a weak beer, and there are some nice aromas of malt and roasted grains.

The taste… well, nice in some parts of the mouth, if that makes any sense. Too sweet at first, with a harsh burnt treacle flavour, but rather pleasant going down, when the slightly bitter chocolate flavours come through. Reminiscent of the sweeter variety of mild, we thought.

On balance, I suspect this would taste wonderful with chocolate cake, which tends to make most beers taste too dry, but it’s not something we’d drink too often.

So, over to you. Any suggestions for other beers under 3% which are worth a go…?

Bonus feature: here’s an old post with an advert for Mann’s featuring Sherlock Holmes.

First they came for the Special Brew…part two

It seems I spoke too soon when I wrote about Westminster council’s scheme to ban strong lagers and ciders from off-licences in certain spots.

I should point out that this is a voluntary scheme, not the result of any legislation, and that it is localised to several areas within Westminster which are particularly known for “street-drinkers”.

The Conservative party announced yesterday that if they come to power they would be seeking to raise taxes on high strength beer and cider, and also alcopops.

As I said in my original post, and as the commentators added, your average alkie will just switch to wine or whatever else gives you more bang for your buck.

Meanwhile, some of us have Imperial Stout and Belgian triple habits to maintain…For wanting to drink these, I am not a “sensible drinker” in the eyes of the Tories. But as a young(ish) woman, I probably shouldn’t be drinking at all, according to them — the reason for the attack on alcopops is that these are “targeted primarily at young women”. Young women drinking? Next they’ll be getting jobs and having sex.