Wednesday, June 20, 2007


To make truly mad alcoholic drinks, you need to be really dedicated. The demands of modern capitalism mean profit takes precedence over all other concerns, so if it takes a long time, they won't do it. Hence all these pissy weak beers coming out like Beck's Vier, Peeterman Artois and - you what? - the 2% Carling C2, which appears to be a soft drink for those who find Carling too strong and full-flavoured.

Seriously, what is wrong with everybody? I understand the invention of Guinness Extra Cold; it's for people who like the brand but don't actually like the beer, so need it superchilled to remove all flavour. Why would you need flavourless diluted piss like Fosters extra cold?

The promotion says it's pretend beer for when you need to be seen with a pint but can't actually have one. Mind you, the same promotion calls it 'the great tasting mid-strength lager'.

'Mid', as any user of the English language will tell you, means that which is in the middle, neither the top nor the bottom. As opposed to that whose value is lower than any other. Rather than being a lunchtime pint, I suspect it's more to do with the fact that you can brew it inside of a day and get the gear making a new batch, maximising profit.

At the other end of the scale lie the drinks that can never repay the time invested, so they can only be made by those with all the time in the world going spare and no concern for monetary reward. Monks. All those insanely strong thick beers from Belgian trappists. Is it just a coincidence, or is there a shared etymological root with 'Belgium' and 'bludgeon'?

In the UK, we have our own. Buckfast Tonic Wine.

The label starts you worrying even before you unscrew the cap. "The use of the words 'tonic wine' does not imply health giving properties".

It's made in a a big monastery in a small village, Buckfastleigh in Devon. They import continental wines and do something secret and weird to them, probably involving rituals from books like the ones Giles from Buffy keeps on the upstairs shelves.

What comes out is a lunatic thing that makes the drinker howl like a werewolf drag queen being boiled alive.

Bucky drinkers keep out

The makers surely realise it attracts the more, er, insistent type of drinker. The availability of Buckfast seems inversely proportionate to the proximity to Buckfastleigh Abbey. They know full well what it does to people and they don't want it anywhere near them.

Find it in Devon? No chance. By Birmingham it's in a few choice offies, but you have to know where to look. In Glasgow it's practically delivered with the milk.

And so it is that we come to Berkeley Street in Glasgow city centre and find this enchanting alfresco scene.

Some radge bugger's been getting their bits out and pissing on the pavement, and they've also deposited their empty bottle of, oh, what a surprise...

empty buckfast bottle in a pissed-in corner


anthonyqkiernan said...

Berkeley Street? Probably some ersatz ned in a post-rock band, then.

Simon H said...

At the risk of becoming this blog's resident pedant, a few corrections from a former local resident of the area:

1. It's Buckfast Abbey, not Buckfastleigh Abbey.

2. It's Buckfast that's the small village, not Buckfastleigh which is a small town just over the hill from Buckfast.

3. Buckfast Tonic is available locally: not least from the gift shop at Buckfast Abbey (I should know, I used to work there part-time as a student), but also from local off-licences, some as far afield as Torquay. Most of the volume we'd sell would be to normal run-of-the-mill tourists, but occasionally we'd get a coachload of Celtic-shirt wearing Scots who'd purchase a case of the stuff (each).

zoe said...

i'm scary enough with whisky.
never let me drink buckfast. please.

C said...

I really enjoyed your celebration of Buckfast, especially the marker scrawled warning pleading with drunkards not to abuse the help.

I worked at a 7/11 convenience store in Orlando, Florida back in '96. It was a shitty affair, through and through, I felt like I was bangin' in Compton. Workers from some horrible concrete plant or other such place where dump trucks come and go through a haze of white dust would invade the store after the work bell literally rang letting them out from school/work/prison or whatever.

They would grab different cheap beers in brown paper bags. What is the point of these bags. We had to carry 5 different sizes to serve the needs of the many. It seemed like each person had special ordered their specific elixir of nonexistence.

Here's the lineup: Mickey's, Old English, Bud, Miller Light- the usual low brow fair. I actually drink Miller High Life most of the time- its cheap. I've had all kinds of microbrews. I like Guinness its like a coke float more than any beer I know. The rest of the nice one's I don't care about. I blow dough on Harley's and my VW hatchback so I appreciate quality somewhat. I don't really understand expensive beer.

I also don't understand lottery tickets. Instead of putting money into a health plan every day these schmucks buy lottery tickets.
These poor fools carry them around like some prayer tickets from the bishop. Praying to God that their ship will one day come in.

This is all in the first week I was there. The lady that was supposed to train me was pregnant and kept leaving to smoke and abandon her lame job. I guess I wanted to work there for the experience and I sure got it.

One day this big fella a few places back in line says, "Hey, college boy, can't you do this any faster?!" I'm trying to process one of these handscrawled tickets and started to feel like a bookie in early 20th century Kansas City. I almost felt the green accountants visor on my head and elastic around my elbow to show that I had nothin' up my sleeve. The cross eyed fat little lady says, " I wanna 468 Box Triple." uh, what? Uh, ohh! big dude is pissed... He pouts like a child, stomps his foot, turns his head and exhales- "God!"

I am considered calm by most of my friends. This is a front. I'm only afraid that I will kill some cop in the streets as he tries to choke me for some perceived wrongdoing. This is why I look and behave calm. So, anyway I eventually can't handle the stress and simply, ignorantly slowly say, "Well, fuck you man- I don't go to college."


He storms out.

Transactions continue.

A harsh knock on the front window a foot from my head startles me.

Its Mr. Dickhead.

"I'm gonna be waiting for you."

Adrenaline flows.

I instantly worry about my cherry '96 Chevy Impala SS parked right outside. "Oh, shit! I hope he doesn't figure out that's my car.?!

I think it would be cool to have drunk people in bars around the world fuck with each other on webcams- play games, get made fun of ( the good stuff of life)

Honestly, tell me what you think of this bar to bar bullshit session.


merrick said...

Chad, you're a fuckin genius!

Not only should there be drunk people in bars insulting each other aggressively on webcams, but there should be TV shows compiling the best footage.

The neanderthal aggression with no possible outlet would be deeply comical. The level of insult could keep on rising and it would never get physically threatening, so people with a low level of articulacy would be forced to try to keep saying what they feel. Brilliant.

Andrew said...

A friend of mine is turning 30 and Buckfast would make the best gift since he's from the UK and stuck in Canada. Can I get buckfast in Canada? Can it be shipped? Please let me know at