Magazine article The Spectator

Give Me Strength

Magazine article The Spectator

Give Me Strength

Article excerpt

I have a confession to make: I am writing this article under the influence. As I tap away at my laptop, a can of lovely Carlsberg Special Brew sits on the table beside me, acting on my brain as oil acts on a car engine: lubricating the moving parts. Ever since I found that it could help to speed up my word output, strong Danish beer has been essential to my writing career, so it's a great shock to discover that the government has Special Brew in its sights.

Carlsberg Special is perhaps the most notorious of the super-strength lagers on sale in Britain today. It has a glorious alcohol by volume measurement of 9 per cent, and its intensity far exceeds the average lagers on the market, which rarely go above 5 per cent.

This why it's so appealing to tipplers on a tight string; and why it's known as 'tramp juice.'

Precisely because of the wayward nature of some of Special Brew's most ardent clientele, the public health lobby has made the beer a prime target for its sanctimonious activities.

The coalition already plans to introduce minimum alcohol pricing to curb sales, but some killjoys now want to go further. One charity, Thames Reach, has called for an outright ban on the sales of all beers above 6 per cent - a form of prohibition voluntarily enacted by many shops across Westminster for some time now. 'Super-strength alcohol is aimed at alcoholics, drug users and some of the most vulnerable and needy members of society, ' said Audrey Lewis, a Westminster city councillor, in justifying the initiative.

Well, not all Special Brew devotees are Intrigued rather than deterred by Special After becoming used to Special Brew, gentlemen of the road. Some of us lead vaguely respectable lives, own our own homes and bathe regularly. And unlike the hectoring prohibitionists, we believe that people should take responsibility for their own actions.

Brew's negative image, I began drinking it about two decades ago and I relish it partly because of its unique, rich taste, which, like so many of the best flavours, manages to be simultaneously sweet and bitter. Nor can I deny that I like the warm glow and buzz that it gives me.

almost every other beer seems insipid. That fine connoisseur and literary genius Kingsley Amis was also a fan of Special Brew and used to mix it, half and half, with ordinary Carlsberg in a large tankard. …

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