Sixth-form history trip to Prague, some time in the nineties; I’m all Doc Martens and shapeless homemade jumpers, as are my friends. Staying in a cheap hotel on the outskirts of town, in the middle of a huge housing estate, we decide to hit the bar and buy lots of bottles to drink in our dormitory.
I have no idea what beer it was but, at the time, two things struck me: first, that it was absurdly cheap – around 20 pence a bottle – and, secondly, that it was 10%. Ten! Three times as strong as Foster’s! We were all amazed by this but also pleasantly surprised to wake up the next day without enormous hangovers. We put this down to the amazing quality of the beer, coz, like, it’s all the additives in beer that gives you the hangovers, innit?
I maintained the daft belief for the next decade that you could drink vast quantities of strong Czech and German beer without feeling the pain the next day because it was ‘cleaner’.
With my subsequently acquired beer geek hat on, it seems obvious today that the ‘10% beer’ was no such thing but rather a ‘desitka’ (10 degrees Balling) and so much more likely to have been around 3-4% ABV.
How many British students have imagined themselves into a drunken stupor on three bottles of weak lager because they’ve made the same mistake?