Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Trollied Tuesday: in which I give aid and succour to the enemies of decent society

As promised: here's the cheap booze taste test. Please regard this a sort of stream of consciousness protest against idiotic puritanism. Should this degenerate into alcohol-fuelled madness, I will happily concede I'm wrong.

Before: It was one of the most shameful moments of my life. I shuffled forward, eyes lowered, praying no one would look at me in the act, knowing that they would curl their thin-pinched lips and look at me in the way you'd look at something they'd stepped in – and know all along that they'd be right to do so.

I had in my basket that antithesis of all that is good, decent and clean in our society. That terrible message to the children, the cheaper than cola or water, but oh so demonic drink. I was in the process of buying four cans of cheap supermarket lager - Sainsbury's Basics: 2.0% strength. 22p each. Desperate alcoholism for people who can't really handle their drink. The packaging alone is a silent scream for a life gone badly wrong.

A bit before: two cans of 22p lager are chilling in the fridge (maybe it'll grow on me). I trawl through a couple of month's worth of newspaper articles about how cheap drink is fuelling an "epidemic" of binge drinking. Booze Britain is going to die of liver failure after a nasty, brutish and short life of smashing things up and fighting. How could retailers be so irresponsible as to encourage this by selling alcohol at rock bottom prices? I need a drink to cheer me up.

Realise this is precisely the wrong attitude to alcohol. The sort of thing that causes people to buy more for less, rather than less for more.


I take it out of the fridge: I've already thought of several ways to describe how vile it is. This is cheating, I realise, and start thinking it might be a pretty refreshing drink when served cold. The sort of thing you'd drink on a summer's day when you didn't want to overdo it. Like Budweiser, only without the branding.

I pour it: the can reads "light, refreshing, thirst rate!". Oh dear. It smells like someone spilled beer on the glass. The taste is homeopathic; a suggestion of hops and alcohol. It doesn't taste so bad, I think, it doesn't taste. Then there's an after taste which is stronger than the taste itself and is faintly metallic and sour. I think of the people who would be reduced to buying this stuff, and want a drink to cheer me up. I swallow some more. It doesn't do the trick.

Drinking my way into an irredeemable spiral: one chugs a glass thinking it's water. Only the after taste reminds you it's beer. You could unwittingly swallow a fair quantity in this fashion, but you won't really get drunk. Drink enough and it'll fatten you up, though. I have some Earl Gray. It has more flavour.

Real alchies would drink Special Brew or something else which delivers a lot of alcohol quickly and cheaply. What self-respecting tramp would be seen swilling weak, supermarket lager?

One can down: I'm drinking slowly because, well, there's no reason to get it down you. They should encourage this stuff; it'll really cut people's drinking. Still, I might get to like it. I open another can, thinking I'd get more booze out of some mouthwash - it's something to hope to for later. I swallow some more of the cheapo lager; the nothing followed by metal sensation persists.

Food time and one thing I will say is that it isn't bad as a palate cleanser with spicy food, a case of everything cancelling each other out. That said, it took around three hours to drink two cans and it did not have any real intoxicating effect. Tiredness and boredom are more likely to finish me off. I start eyeing the mouthwash with longing.

Only a 12-year-old girl would even try and get drunk on this stuff; and I doubt that many 12-year-old girls would enjoy it. I assume it is sold at 22p a can because no one would really buy it unless it were astoundingly cheap. It's not good value for the buyer and I can't see why the supermarket feels obliged to sell it as a loss leader. Beyond that, I cannot see - matters of taste and aesthetics aside – why anyone would get worked up about the stuff.

It bears repeating again that people who want to get drunk on the cheap will do so with strong, nasty alcohol - your Buckfasts, Special Brews, Scotsmacs even. In recognition of this fact Tesco, having started pandering to idiotic hysteria, is now open to the idea of clearing its shelves of strong beer. I assume, however, that this won't include Belgian beers. After all, we need only fear drunken proles.

(It's worth noting, too, that I had intended to compare the Sainsbury's stuff with Tesco's cheapest. However, the Kilburn High Road branch didn't have any. It did have plenty of chilled and ready to drink cans of Tennents Super and very cheap bottles of White Lightning. By an amazing coincidence, that store is just across the borders of Westminster, the borough which is spearheading the crackdown on super strength lager. )

I still doubt that clearing the shelves of these products will make much difference to anything, except making a few tramps a bit more irritable and aggressive. However, I am now certain that any indignation that may exist about cheap, own-brand, low strength beers is as laughable as the marketing strategies behind the drinks themselves and the people who buy them.

If anyone does have a better suggestions, please add them to the comments. Prize: two cans of Sainsbury's Basics Lager.



OpenID if42 said...


My favourite bit: "They should encourage this stuff; it'll really cut people's drinking."

9:50 am  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I'm still chuckling about the 'tastes homeopathic' comment - very witty.

Please don't buy anything in Tesco - they are a bunch of cunts.


3:31 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Thank you, if and Puss.

However, surely if you hate Tesco you should buy lots of their discounted, loss-leader beer to eat into their profits. Then throw a party for people you dislike to get rid of it.

6:56 pm  
Anonymous Mortdecai said...

Ah, Bill, a man after my own heart. Whenever I shop at Tesco I find myself buying only loss leaders. I shop there rarely but to (hopefully) devastating effect.

The discounted, loss leader Chilean reds at £2.80-2.98 are really quite excellent for the money (if not the veins in one's nose).

9:29 am  

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