” Pint Of Dog Slobber, Please. “

Do you frequent the bottle shop, as I do? And do you pass down the long rows of wine bottles to what is becoming equally long lines of craft beer shelves and wonder about the names? And about the people who named them?

Lets face it – booze is booze. It contains molecules that make us witty, great dancers, and desirable lovers. It lets us meet people like policemen and magistrates. It keeps us from wasting our money on good clothing or education for the children or a nice place to live. It is one of the most useful fluids there is, apart from cat wee.

But it all looks the same in the container. If the glass of the bottle is darkened you cannot tell whether the contents are red, white, or yellow ( the most popular colours ) and there is no smell to let you know whether the stuff is good or not. You depend upon the label.

Some labels are frank and brutal. ” Beer ” they say, and apart from the mandatory alcohol percentage and address of the conglomerate brewery they tell you nothing. You take it or leave it.

Some labels are very elegant – a simple name in script of a famous vineyard and a year announces all you need to know – but it presumes that you actually know a very great deal more. This sort of marketing also means you will pay a great deal more.

Some are just industrial warehousing codes so that the chain store staff can stack them efficiently. You might find as much information on a bean can label. Most of these fluids are fairly safe to drink but do not expect them to be a revelation of untold paradise.

But the real chancers – the lotteries of the taste buds – are the labels that the craft brewer ( read guys in Industrial Unit 83A ) or small winemaker ( Unit 83B ) nut out when they finally have the corks in and it’s time to fire up the printer. I will give them points for imagination and verve. Also for crass and edgy. But the problem is that “Harry’s Hop Swill ” or ” The Last Evocation Of Evanescence ” sound good when you’re sitting at the computer half-cut on the last of the vat, but they do not tell the customer a thing.

Perhaps that is the idea. Put out an alcoholic punchboard and let people take their chances with whatever the pin hits. As long as it is out of the unit and off the shelf, it is a win. The HAZMAT squad can always be bought off.

 

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