london News opinion

First they came for the Special Brew…

diamond-white_lg.gifIt’s been all over the London news today that several supermarket chains will be removing “super-strength” cheap beers (and ciders) from their central London shops.

Brands such as the 9% Carlsberg Special Brew and Diamond White will no longer be within the reach of the gentleman of the road, at least not if he walks the beat in Westminster.

Before I go into paranoid ranting, 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”.

However…this is a move that has been discussed as potential government legislation, and the results will no doubt be monitored closely by policy wonks.

So now for the paranoid ranting. While I’m no fan of Special Brew or any of the other brands mentioned by name in the article, you do have to wonder how this scheme or any potential future legislation will distinguish between “tramp-juice” and, say, your average Belgian ale.

I like to think it would be obvious that something like St Bernardus Abt 12, at 10%, should not be outlawed, but how about some more subjective brews? What about Guiness Foreign Export Stout, one of the finest Imperial Stouts available, and a hit with the vagrant of distinction? Or even some of the Polish “mocny” beers available now – I don’t like ’em much, but other beer lovers do.

Yes, this is all hypothetical – I’ve been in pretty much every off-licence in the Victoria area and they never have anything exciting that might fall foul of a ban. But come on, let’s have your thoughts. How would you define rules that would allow you exciting exotic treats from Belgium while simultaneously banning tramp brew? Some kind of equation based on percentage and price? Percentage divided by Beer Advocate rating?

Anyway, will this really be effective? Surely hard-core alcoholics will move on to cheap strong red wine or counterfeit vodka instead. We already have laws and Asbos to stop people thieving, begging, pissing in the streets and other anti-social behaviour. Why not enforce them, instead of picking on a few derided brands?


You’ve got to love the Carlsberg blurb about Special Brew on their website. After claiming its links with Winston Churchill, they remind you that to drink responsibly, a man should drink no more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day, and then point out that a 500ml can of SB at is 4.5 units.


14 replies on “First they came for the Special Brew…”

The hobos will get their booze one way or another. If you take the super strong lager from them, they will just go for vodka, or rubbing alcohol. Desparate dipsomaniacs demand decent decoctions daily…

You’re supposed to share your Special Brew, Boak. It’s such a social beverage.

They couldn’t possibly legislate for this, could they? It would have to be a choice by the retailers: get the punters onto high mark-up premium Belgian ales. For “Trappist” read “Tramp pissed”.

The nerd in me wants to point out that Guinness F.E.S. isn’t an imperial stout (but the best example of an export stout for sure) and rest of me agrees with you whole heartedly, wine and spirits are surely higher on the tramps wish list, I doubt they will ban them.

I think Special Export is the best Guinness hands down. I had a couple of bottles of Nigerian FES the other night and it wasn’t as nice as I remembered.

One thing that always amazes me is when I’ve had contact with those with severe alcohol problems, no matter how addled their brains are they can still work out the maths on the best deal price vs abv.

BAN IT NOW (special brew) its a killer, i was addicted to it, at a cost i woke up….. my bro still drinks (4) daily now i can see what it dose. BAN IT, it wouldnt take much, they wouldnt loose to much (goverment). think of the lives to be saved, we dont need it we wont miss it. PLEASE SOMEONE BAN IT

dose any one else want to help ban brew & friends ????????? i dont want mine or next doors kids on brew & its not a tramps brew . it hits the spot like nothing else, its a hit, then you want it again, too late because your past the point in one go, the rush is on , says to be shared ok you buy one i buy one oops thats two ahh lets have another, is that what makes it special must be, it hit the spot.

ant, i came across ur post as im researching sb, i’ve kicked the habit and im starting a campaign to get it banned.those who dont know about tramp juice dont go there, tis real bad and ur right, immediate,y want another, i think its the sugar?…

How about we don’t ban anything? And you stop being a snob? And pull your head out of your arse and share this bottle of Frosty Jack’s with me?

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