Sunday 2 October 2011

Mischief’s afoot

Badger’s Tanglefoot was arguably the first of the wave of golden ales, being introduced well before the usual suspects of Exmoor Gold and Hop Back Summer Lightning. It was 5% ABV, but much lighter in body and more quaffable than the heavy, malty brews like Ruddles County and Royal Oak which in the mid-1980s were typical of beers at that strength. Not for nothing did the brewery for many years label it as “dangerously drinkable”.

Some time later, that was changed to “deceptively drinkable”, which is a bit more politically correct but still conveys essentially the same message, and the following legend appeared on the back of the bottles:
Many years ago, the Head Brewer invited his staff to sample his latest creation and coin a name for it. So successful was the sampling that several tankards of the ale were consumed. On rising to go, the Head Brewer experienced a sudden loss of steering, and so unwittingly fell on a name for this legendary ale. Now, as then, Tanglefoot remains “deceptively drinkable”.
However, what’s this now? I buy a bottle sporting the new label design, and the wording round the neck has been changed to “Mischief’s afoot”. And they’re now blaming it on the dog:
Many years ago, the Head Brewer, John Woodhouse, invited his team to sample his latest creation. On rising to go, his mischievous companion, believing a walk was imminent, tangled his owner up with the lead, and Woodhouse fell upon the perfect name for this new beer.
It seems it’s no longer considered acceptable to admit that beer has any effect on you at all. Mind you, when it’s all cut to 2.8% ABV, it won’t. Also note the politically correct change from “staff” to “team”.

The picture shows the old label, by the way.


  1. I didn't know that staff was politically incorrect, and can't see why it might be.

  2. You must have come across modern management-speak that refers to "team members" or "associates" rather than anything so suggestive of a master-servant relationship as "staff", "employees" or "workers".

  3. Yes, everyone is part of a "team" these days. I can't get too worked up by it, though.

  4. Can't say I've tried "Tanglefoot", but having spent my formative years in Dorset, my experience of "Badger beer" was nothing short of shite!!

  5. Right-wing political correctness then, as we lefties don't have a problem with terms like 'staff' or 'workers', as they correctly define the boss/employee relationship.

    But I'm with Tyson - I can't get too worked up about it either.

  6. Oh dear - and I'm a BIG fan of the Badger Brewery. Think I'll have to write to head office and say that I'm switching brands until this PC crap stops.

  7. At first, I was merely depressed after reading this.

    Very quickly, that was replaced by anger.

    Who in Christendom do they think we (their customers) are? Do they seriously expect nobody to notice? Or do they expect anyone who notices not to care?

    How can anyone who ever believed this story (I did, and now I feel like a complete idiot) just sit back and happily watch them manifestly change it - purely to suit some utterly misguided corporate agenda?

    How in the world can political correctness be more important than base-level honesty?

    After all, given that these two contradictory accounts of the same incident cannot both be true, it follows that one of them is false.

    But what does 'false' mean in this context? Are we talking about a mistake they made in terms of the precise details of a factual event, or is the entire scenario fictitious, and merely the product of a public relations exercise - a contrived 'brewery myth' concocted by dispassionate marketing experts to boost sales?

    Either way - we been fed at least one incorrect historical account by one of Britain's oldest and most respected companies. This is blatantly unacceptable, and I'd like to know how this could have happened.

    Who is going to tell us whether that first account (a tale taken to heart and retold by drinkers worldwide) was incorrectly described, perhaps due to some kind of innocent error which has now been amended - or whether the whole story was a pure fabrication from the start?

    A blunder or a lie? Which is it?

    My suspicion is that neither story is true, which may explain their apparent freedom to rewrite history. For a person in a position of responsibility to admit to being inebriated is one thing, but to have 'appeared' to admit it when it never actually occurred is quite something else. Especially given the subsequent erosion of 'humour' in our increasingly self-loathing society in the years since the first label was produced.

    It might have seemed 'jokey' at the time, but in these passionately dull times it seems 'irresponsible.'

    But if they are now ashamed of the story, I believe they should have ditched it. Not changed it. All they've done is expose a level of gently cynical dishonesty which exists at the very core of their enterprise, and I find this massively disturbing and ultimately unacceptable.

    Therefore, I too am boycotting all Badger products until they address this, and will be saying so to my readers. I had got their 'Poachers Choice' review ready to post, but I will now be withholding it indefinitely and highlighting this appalling situation instead.

    Basically, every once in a while, companies forget their customers.

    Whenever this happens, customers should do the same.

  8. I doubt whether either story is true in a literal sense, but the first one is a little myth that is appropriate to the beer, whereas the second one is just politically correct bollocks.


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