Russ Stewart: London April 2021
The last pint I had in a pub was last autumn, as a member of the Twickenham Scotch Egg Appreciation Society.
It was a Birra Moretti, cost £5 and was about 5% alcohol.
Contrast that with a mid seventies pint of Tennants, which cost 20p and was about 3.2% alcohol.
The UK average salary in 1975 was around £3,000 per annum… about 15,000 pints.
The UK average salary in 2020 was around £38,000, which equates to about 7,600 pints.
So, in the 70s as we shivered in our single glazed homes, took holidays on chilly Scottish shingle beaches wearing Harris tweed bathing suits, at least we could stupefy ourselves on cheap beer.
Unfortunately, at 3.2% alcohol it took at least a gallon of beer to attain a state where we thought we were witty and interesting.
In those days beer marketing was focussed on the 6 pint “session” drinker.
He was a chap in his early 20s who went to the pub with three mates, each buying two rounds.
I worked as a systems analyst for Courage beer and they launched the “follow the bear” marketing for Hofmeister lager, probably the most recognisable session beer at the time.
On the other hand, Tennants had the picture can strategy for the take home, carry-out market.
The reverse of the tin featured a local beauty, typically Miss Rothesay 1962, sporting a West Palm Beach helmet hairstyle, with the intent of prompting your subconscious to increase your thirst.
Personally a packet of salted peanuts worked better for me.
The Burnbrae in Bearsden was my local then and McEwen’s lager was my preference.
The Allander was an alternative, and it served Tennants.
That pub was a temple to Formica.
It was brightly lit and cunningly utilised light wavelength to expertly highlight the plooks on underage drinkers, of which there were many.
Our other local – The Talbot Arms in Milngavie served Ushers.
It had a lounge bar and the beer was 1p a pint more, due to its lavishly appointed furniture and fittings.
It attracted a slightly more discerning type of Milngavie Ned.
Pernod and blackcurrant tempted the jaded palates of some session drinkers.
Not for me… however it did contribute to a more fragrant and colourful type of vomit from the over-refreshed.
Back to the 2020s….
Nowadays I rarely have more than two or three pints a session.
The beer is too strong, perhaps it’s the impact of the marketing communications, that warn us of “irresponsible” drinking.
In contrast to the Hofmeister Bear the messaging today is very aspirational.
Guinness have focused on these ridiculous philosophical adverts, worthy of Eric Cantona at his most confused (I loved the existentialism embedded in his karate kicking of an errant fan).
I was business systems manager for Guinness for a while and the story goes that they had specially trained rats that scoffed the spent yeast from the pipes in the Dublin brewery.
Come to think of it, that would be a great commercial.
The only problem is, that I’m not 100% sure of the veracity of that story, truth or urban myth?
If true, then life really is all ‘beer and skittles’, for some…
I’ll leave you with this beer related thought…..
“There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says ‘Good people drink good beer.’
Which is true, then as now.
Just look around you in any public barroom and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer.
Think about it.”
Hunter S. Thompson