The Scottish Brewery BrewDog underwent major criticism from health advocates and alcohol awareness groups this past summer, as they unveiled their new beer, Tokyo*. Tokyo* is Britain’s highest alcohol content beer, at 18.2%, and they were slammed for being irresponsible, by providing a beer with that high of an alcohol content, in a society that is already troubled by alcoholism.
In response to this criticism, BrewDog is launching their newest beer, naming it ‘Nanny State,’ with an ABV of 1.1%. They are very pleased with the production of the drink, which by British law, does not have a high enough alcohol content to even be called beer. They claim that it has more hops per barrel than any other British beer, and they are all hand picked by the brewers as their personal favorites. Richard McLelland, BrewDog’s sales director, had this to say: ”It is an extraordinary little ale, jammed full of all the brewer’s favourite hops, giving it as much body and mouth feel as possible, ensuring that low strength does not translate into reduced flavour.”
While it does sound hoppy and delicious, I think the more important matter here is the subtle dig that they take at political and social leaders, by naming the beer Nanny State. Indeed, over the years there have been many reports of nanny state phenomenon appearing all over the world, as government decides that it has become more and more necessary to make decisions for the people, especially when related to health. This has been very evident in Great Britain, as we have seen such gems as carpenters being forbidden to sweep saw dust at their job sites, for fear of contracting lung cancer, all the way down to children no longer being allowed to wear soccer cleats when they play, for fear of injuring themselves or other players. Two words have epitomized all of this government mentality: Nanny State. And now these brewers have decided to take their own little stand, while they still can. Even though government action has not been taken for the 18% Godzilla beer known as Tokyo*, it seems they are launching a preemptive strike to gain popular support, through comedic sarcasm.
As BrewDog said, “The stronger beer is so rich that people would consume less of it.” and this is indeed true when it comes to high gravity beers. I have had my share of extremely heavy beers, from 10% all the way up to 14%. So granted, I’ve not had anything higher than that, but the truth remains the same: The stronger the beer gets, the richer it is, and less will be consumed. At least, that is the case with me, and everyone else I know.
When the 13% Dancin’ Hobo was released by Pisgah Brewing Company, I tried it out several times, because it was in limited quantity. They only had two casks of it, and only a couple bars were selling it in half kegs. The rest was only available at the brewery itself. This beer came in an 8 ounce glass, and I would find that after drinking those 8 ounces, I would have my fill of the beer. I enjoyed the taste, but it was so rich with flavors, bold and subtle, not to mention the sugary sweetness of the high alcohol content, I could not drink more than one or two glasses of it.
The long and short of all this is, when freedom to consume something is
restricted, it leads to prohibition. We are hearing whispers in the news of stronger and harsher stances being taken against so called “vices,” as only last week, flavored tobacco and clove cigarettes were banned in the United States. Dmitri Medvedev, the President of Russia, is taking a prohibition stance against alcohol in his country, and is implementing several new plans to limit sales, and most likely, production.
All of this should be taken as a warning: Do not take your freedoms for granted, as they can be taken away from you at the drop of a hat, as was the case in 1919 with the Volstead Act. This time, it may start with something that is on the fringe, and not used or consumed by the majority of people. Such as flavored tobacco and clove cigarettes, or maybe even extremely high gravity beer. From there, it is only logical to assume that the strangle hold will tighten, until moonshiners and bootleggers are once again the only folks you can obtain alcohol from. I personally do not want to drink bathtub Gin, so for my sake and yours, let’s keep a wary, protective eye on our Culture of Spirits.
As always, stay cultured, stay responsible, and stay sophisticated.