Ale in the News

AleIn The NewsBy Mark Briggs

Well, here we go again, another example of a barmy government decision being made recently. This time the minimum pricing policy on alcohol.

I think it’s bang out of order when an MP has the nerve to air his views on this minimum pricing subject, and then he is gagged by the Home Secretary, Theresa May! The Mail on Sunday has revealed that the Minister for alcohol and crime, Lib. Dem. Jeremy Browne, was of the opinion that the 45p minimum pricing policy was wrong, unfair and would not work.

Ok, what is wrong with that view?

Friends of the member for Taunton Deane had also commented that Browne had disputed claims that minimum pricing was certain to cut binge drinking. Or reduce the number of fights. And that it would be the responsible drinkers that would be hit in the pocket.

Again, fair comment by the honourable member for Taunton Deane.

So why the bloody hell does Home Secretary, Theresa May see fit to gag Browne from publicly airing his views? Nothing too controversial here, one thinks. But no, poor Jezza is gagged and dumped in to the sidings, and instead they ‘roll out’ Tory police minister, Damien Green.

He bleats, ‘The pricing policy would stop city centres being turned into a ‘vision of hell’. What planet is he on? My God, save us all from visions of hell, everywhere!

Frazer from Dads Army would have said. ‘’We’re all doomed! DOOMED!’’

Where is this ‘vision of hell’ anyway? This weekly carnage and bloodbath in our towns and cities. I have not witnessed it. Have you? And do you really think people getting pissed are suddenly going to limit themselves because of minimum pricing, anyway? Oooo, I have had eight cans, better not make it nine!

Jeremy Browne had also mentioned that minimum pricing would discriminate against the poor. Too right it will! Someone on a restricted income would now have to ‘stump up’ around 70p more for their bottle of plonk. But of course the middle class drinkers will be fine, as there will be no increase on their bottle of ten quid Chablis. And if there was, they could afford it anyway!

Vision of hell, eh Minister Green! Please keep me posted on your ‘visionary expertise’. I am sure everyone will be keen to avoid falling into the abyss! Beware folks; your ‘vision of hell’ could be in a town or city near you. It is nice to report on something positive in the current economic climate. Here up north the demand for real ale continues a pace, as we witness an increasing number of pubs providing an excellent choice in cask conditioned beers.

Not too long ago choice was restricted. There would be one, maybe two cask ales on the bar. How times have changed. Now it is common to see four or five on offer. The range of ales is widening also. Light beers, blonde beers, darker beers and all with varying strengths and tastes.

Of course, we have to thank the brewers and pubs for identifying and responding to the demand. There are now almost a thousand breweries in the UK, mostly made up of small, flourishing microbreweries, who are producing some superb beers. You seem to hear of a new brewery almost every month. I regularly walk into a pub and see a beer from yet another new brewer. However, I am not complaining!

Most of the pubs I visit are so passionate about their real ale and take great pride in offering a first class choice of beers for their customers.

One thing that amuses me from time to time, when I visit some pubs, is the clever, amusing names of some of their beers. They can be very funny, clever and perhaps a little sexist. However, I reckon it is a good piece of marketing, as it attracts you to the pump clip, and on many occasions I have heard people say ‘That beer clip is funny, I am going to try their beer’.

Some of the funny names that spring to mind, include, Vicar of Dribbley, Old Slapper, Randy Otter, Village Idiot, Slap and Tickle and One Thousand Red Baboons. One name ‘Top Totty’ created national interest recently, when it was banned in the House of Commons ‘Strangers Bar’. Labour’s equalities spokesperson, Kate Green branded it offensive and demeaning to women. As a result it was withdrawn, thus causing outrage amongst MP’s and hitting the national headlines.

I am of the opinion the funny named beers are a good piece of marketing, as it attracts a customer’s attention. They certainly play their part in promoting real ale. Although, some people do disagree, resulting in some lively debate at the bar!

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