Minimum unit pricing for alcohol has returned, this time it’s the ridiculous morons in the Welsh ‘parliament’ doing it. I notice they have now reduced your alcohol allowance to 14 units a week with no reasoning nor justification. Hah! 14 units? I never start writing until I’m well past that.
As the comments below the article point out, the Welsh will simply go to England to buy booze, and those on or close to the border will probably just do their weekly shopping over there too. Nice dent in the Welsh economy there, added to this latest slapdown on the tourist trade.
There’s another aspect though. Alcohol is incredibly easy to make. You can make beer or (especially) wine out of just about anything. As long as it contains sugar, it will ferment. No controls, no regulations, no limit on ABV beyond what your yeast can tolerate – and yeast can be gradually selected for the most alcohol tolerant variety so will produce stronger booze with successive use.
Okay, I have an unfair advantage here, being a microbiologist who has worked with all kinds of fermentations and with a lab full of fermentation equipment but trust me, you can do it with plastic buckets and demijohns.
Banana wine is very nice and really potent. As bananas ripen, the starch in them breaks down into sugars so they get sweeter and also easier to ferment. What you want are the really ripe ones where the skin is blackening and you know you’ll get those at a heavy discount in pretty much any shop that sells bananas.
The fermenting stuff looks horrible but once it’s finished and cleared it’s a yellowish whisky-like colour. It looks and tastes lovely and it should be approached with caution. It turns out very potent indeed. Regulations? Control? Units? Nobody cares.
I have a bottle of banana wine. Some friends of mine made it. They live in Wales and they make wine out of pretty much anything at all. They have demijohns and bottles galore and they’ve given away some but never thought of selling it. The new anti-drink laws could turn out profitable for them and others like them. Including the unscrupulous who will just add rubbing alcohol to fruit juices with no concern as to the horrible consequences on their customers. Remember, when you are blind and getting your stomach pumped, Public Health Puritanism made that happen.
Of course, with supermarkets selling booze ‘cheaper than water’ (this has never actually happened outside the demented heads of the Public Health Puritans) few people will bother going to all that trouble. They’d rather just get a few cans in to watch a film on a Friday night.
Put up the price though, and suddenly homebrew isn’t too much bother at all. It’s already started in Scotland, where the Spiteful Nannying Puritans have been in power for some time. I see demijohns appear in second hand shops at £8 a pop and they don’t hang around long.
I don’t need them of course, I have a lab full of 5-litre conical flasks…
Out here in the countryside I have access to wild raspberries and blackberries, slashing back the garden has revealed, so far, three apple trees and three crabapple trees. Several large elder trees. I have gooseberries and strawberries and… two well established grapevines in a greenhouse, ready for harvesting. A third vine might start producing next year.
Raw materials needn’t cost a penny. I have all the equipment, and none of it needs to be complex. I do have four continuous culture vessels that could be turned into continuous beer/wine producers with a little adjustment. That won’t be hard since I built them from scratch anyway.
None of it is regulated by anyone other than me. None of the bottles will have any information concerning units or alcohol content or the ‘no fat birds’ sticker. I might put ‘please drink irresponsibly’ on them for fun. Why not? I live in Brewdog country here. Sorry, not sorry.
As for beer, well I live on a farm that grows barley. I’m sure I could get a couple of shovelfuls for washing the farmer’s car or something similar. I just need to plant some hops, I have room for a small malting house (it’s not as complex as you’d think) and then the beer is free too. It’s also totally devoid of any limits on ABV, other than what I can train the yeast to tolerate.
I made beer in the 1980s as a student. I supplied a barrel at a party and heard slurred complaints and talk of ‘rocket fuel’ and ‘what the hell have you made?’. That wasn’t even the nettle beer incident (which happened only once) where I used nettles that had grown a bit too much. You’re only supposed to use the very young ones that haven’t yet developed stinging cells. It tasted good although it took a day or so to get the feeling back in your tongue.
Then there was tea wine which was awful but freeze-distilled into tea brandy was actually pretty good. Never bothered to do it again, it wasn’t that fantastic.
In the 1980s there were specialised homebrew shops. Supermarkets sold homebrew kits. Then they all vanished. Now there are shops selling homebrew stuff again. Only a matter of time before the specialist shops reappear.
Beyond that is the random homebrew. Booze made from anything that ferments. It’s happened before and it’s making a big comeback now.
No regulations, no limits. Thanks to the idiots in charge. At least I can honestly say I didn’t vote for them. Can you?
More importantly, will you vote for them next time?