The Grocer reports that the Home Office is “poised to hold talks with police chiefs about a nationwide rollout of ‘voluntary’ retailer bans on high-strength booze”.
I’ve written about this at length before, but going nationwide is a deeply worrying expansion of the scheme. It is an obvious restraint of trade in aiming to prevent the sale of lawful products, so the Office of Fair Trading is quite right to take an interest.
And if you try to separate out “responsible” from “irresponsible” products, where do you draw the line? Are Duvel and Old Tom high-quality craft products consumed by discerning connoisseurs? How about Henry Weston’s Vintage Cider? And much of the production of farmhouse cidermakers is well north of 6.5% ABV and is primarily consumed by rural pissheads, not aficionados.
Don’t forget that Special Brew started out as a premium product and was only later adopted as the tramp’s drink of choice. Cooking Lager has reported seeing a Belgian tramp necking Chimay Bleu from the bottle.
This is also a tacit admission that High Strength Beer duty has been a complete failure in achieving the effects that were claimed for it, and has only served to discourage the production and consumption of low-volume “craft” products.