Listen. Every other country does it and so we have no choice but to introduce beer charges.
As on most Sunday afternoons, I like a quiet pint or three as I read my way through the Sunday newspapers. It’s a relaxing time and prepares me for the arduous week ahead. So just imagine my absolute horror and shock not to mention sense of utter injustice as my trusty landlord handed over my usual pint of best and asked me for the princely sum of €4.10
.‘Pardon me? Is the beer not free anymore then, Dave?’ I asked.
‘Fraid not, Delboy,’ he smiled with an outstretched hand.
‘But you can’t just start charging for beer. How come?’
‘Well I agree that access to free beer is a basic human right but so many people drink it now that it needs protecting,’ he smiled.
‘Oh I see,’ I said but of course I didn’t really see at all. ’So that’s why we have to pay for it now then?’
‘Exactly, Derek. Beer doesn’t just fall from the clouds and into these ice cold taps you know. It takes a vast infrastructural network to provide us with safe beer. An expensive brewing and fermenting process, the sewing and harvesting of hops and that’s before all of the screening that’s carried out to remove any impurities or germs.’
‘God I never it was that complicated, Dave.’
‘You’re not the only one mate,’ he smiled. ‘I mean how many people sitting in this pub right now know about all of the chemical agents that are added to their beer to remove smaller particles before it is filtered and that’s before we get to the ridiculous price of sugar. I ask ya.’
‘And at the end of the day the amount of pipes it all has to travel through from the cellar to the pump adds up to thousands of miles.’
Of course needless to say this all left a bitter, forgive the pun, taste in my mouth. As my mind began to wonder if any grants might be available. Naturally I gave the pint back as there was no way anybody was going to charge me for an inalienable pint.
Once back home I called a few TDs who were already frothing at the mouth and getting all into a larger while promising to put together yet another anti movement. ‘Count me in.’ I cried.
Days later leaflets were produced telling the public that the beer they drink today has likely been around in one form or another since cavemen roamed around Navan millions of years ago.
But of course that didn’t stop one of the friendly-faced brewery spokesmen coming on all RTE telling us all that ‘while the amount of beer in Ireland has remained fairly constant over time, continually recycled through the atmosphere and back into our tankards, the beer drinking population has exploded. This means that every year competition for a clean, copious supply of beer for drinking, cooking, bathing in, and sustaining drunken life intensifies.
Pull the other one, I said.
‘And not only that,’ he smirked through the bottom of his glass because not only is the human body sixty percent beer, the resource is also essential for producing unemployed people, drunken teenagers and loud passengers on the Luas and for maintaining our unhealthy conditions.
Tell me something I don’t know.
‘Unfortunately, the Irish have proved to be inefficient beer users. The average steak & Guinness pie takes over two thousand litres or six hundred and thirty pints of beer to produce, and many beer-intensive crops, such as plant pots, hedges, and public and private flower beds rely on the relief that they receive from kindly beer drinkers every Friday and Saturday evening.’
Well I’ve certainly provided plenty of relief in that regard.
‘Freshly brewed beer makes up a very small fraction of all the beer on the planet. While nearly seventy percent of the world is covered by beer only three percent of it is actually fresh. The rest is merely shandy.’
I watched all this with utter contempt because the way he was talking I half expected him to immediately announce the installation of beer meters in every household in the land.
‘In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, beer along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference,’ he smirked through my TV screen.
Right then. I said to myself. The answer to all of this invasion of my sobriety is to drink more water. It’s cheaper, it’s cleaner, it falls from the sky and we can use it as irresponsibly as we like for millennia. And no politician worthy of re-election would ever suggest that we pay for it. Would they?
3rd March 2016.