Monday 1 April 2024

Be careful out there!

Last week, we were treated to the advice from NHS doctor Andrew Kelso that over the holiday period we really shouldn’t eat an Easter egg all at once, which was greeted with predictable and justified ridicule. Yes, maybe it isn’t really a good idea, but does this really need saying?

This was then followed by a gratuitous warning from the Foreign Office to England fans travelling to Germany for Euro 2024 to be careful with German beer as it is often considerably stronger than that in the home country.

Fifty years ago, when most British beer was below 4% ABV, and many fewer people travelled abroad, this might have made sense. But, in the intervening period, British drinkers have gained much more exposure to beers of the typical German strength, with the likes of San Miguel, Heineken and Peroni, all at 5%, being big sellers. In recent years, there has been a little retrenchment but, even so, Stella and Madri still come in at 4.6%, which is in the same ballpark as the leading German beers, which tend to be in the 4.8-5.0% range.

Plus British people have gained much more opportunity to sample stronger Continental beers both on Mediterranean holidays and overseas football trips. So the strength of German beer should not really come as a surprise to anyone. The whole thing comes across as another unnecessary and patronising attempt to lecture people about the evils of drink.

England's first game in the tournament is aganst Serbia on Sunday June 16 in the Veltins-Arena at Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr. And Veltins Pilsener is a very good 4.8% ABV German beer. They used to sell it on draught in Robinson’s pubs.


  1. Oh boy wait until the Foreign Office finds out how many calories are in Schnitzel and chips.

  2. As patronising as the message is, maybe it's not aimed at you.

    Many travelling football fans, maybe young men that haven't travelled so much and have had less time on this earth than yourself to develop into the well travelled man of the world and sophisticate of yourself and your readers.

    Maybe reminding young men more familiar with a few Carlings before a game that the beer abroad is 20% better than the muck here will reduce incidence of the type of drunken loutery we are told shames this country? Doubtful but likely that is the attempt.

    The message should be "Enjoy the decent lager, lads. Come back and demand better lager here" But I'm not the government.

    The opportunity here is to restore the glory of lout as the premium beer of England. Proper 5% lout, none of this 4.5% rubbish.

  3. Veltins is nice, available bottled at Tesco's, because it is one of the drier and crispier lagers/pilsners as opposed to maltier, sweeter ones like paulaner hell or budvar.

    1. All lager tastes the same to me BUT I'll give bottled Veltins a try and report back"!

  4. I for one appreciate this advice and wished the government had stepped in earlier.

    Many years ago, back when I had a proper job and didn't waste my time posting abuse on twitter at tory MPs and occasionally lazily churning out a beer article for the guardian, I miscalculated the strength of German lager. I have little memory of the incident barring a kindly German police offer offering me a cup of English tea through the serving hatch of my cell door and saying "there you go little fat English man, a cup of your English tea, do you want an aspirin? we are not all little Hitlers are we?”

    The German people are very understanding, and no charges were filed after I apologised unreservedly and agreed to pay to clean the large area of the bier garten I had used as a toilet to be professionally cleaned. I lost my proper job when my employer found out but found the world of beer writing to be undemanding enough to not have to get another one, so it all worked out in the end.

  5. Professor Pie-Tin2 April 2024 at 17:21

    I know it's all a bit doom and gloom in the pub world at times but I just want to report my local is going from strength to strength.
    Yesterday they opened on a Monday for the first time since the young couple took it over a couple of years ago and intend to remain a 7-day operation.
    Obviously it was a Bank Holiday but the lunchtime food trade was brisk - mains like bangers and mash, fish and chips, local pies etc all around the £14-15 mark. Pride and Otter on the taps. Free dog biscuits, dog bowls of water, fancy doggie snacks available on the bar.
    And they've just started up a quiz night on a Sunday when the place used to close at 6pm.
    And this is their second pub - another just up the road has been turned around from a dodgy estate pub to a real communal local by the same couple.
    They work incredibly hard whilst still finding time to raise a young family.
    It's great to see such an old-fashioned work ethic where effort brings reward.
    The boozer has been around since the 18th century. I don't see it closing any time soon.

  6. Considering beer in France as well, i recently spotted what I thought was the original Kronenbourg1664 white label bottled beer, on a bottom shelf of our Waitrose.

    Back in the eighties, a chosen route to Calais always included ferrying back several dozen of the bottles or cans which had an ABV of 6.3%, and became a firm favourite, along with other beers like Pelforth and 33 Export!

    But I really thought the beer in this bottle I'd bought was 'off', and on inspection, saw that it was in fact, a 'white beer', and also had a bit of citrus in the mix as well! And it was just 5%...

    I just can't get used to this beer, it has the slightest recall of the original, but that's about that!

  7. When I was a young man, I recall we were warned about the women of France and the things you might catch off them. The French have never been the most hygienic of peoples but most of us young chaps ignored the warnings such as were the charms of the ladies de la jour combined with a joie de vivre that only the young possess in abundance.

    The itch, though. My god in heaven, the itch. When I showed my old chap to the army medic, he told me I was lucky not to lose the blighter and it was months before I dare go near a respectable lady of our fair nation.

    I learnt then what I know now. Whilst you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, it is remiss of the older and wiser not to advise the younger and hope they avoid our mistakes.

    Within this spirit I accept the government advice in the manner it is given. A warning to the less experienced that likely need one.

    I can assure all your readers I have never caught a social disease whilst in Germany and the land is as safe as anywhere for an “away game” and a skin full. I look forward to the tournament and vollbier and say to the younger, enjoy it too. The fräuleins are safer than the mademoiselles.

  8. My experience of Germany is that often the ABV is not readily available information. My opinion is based not entirely on a Saturday spent in Greifenklau supping about 3 Litres of a rather pleasant bock only to discover on my attempt to stagger to the toilet that the reason it took so long to get there was that it was 7.2%.


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