Guest Post: Inflation Rocks The UK As Beer Gets Watered Down

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg

Inflation Rocks The UK As Beer Gets Watered Down

These types of stories are popping up with increased frequency throughout the western world.  Products are simply declining in quality, and in many cases these declines are being accompanied by price increases.  Remember my article from a week ago Inflation Hits Coffee as Brewers Secretly Swap Robusta for Arabica.  This is more or less the same story, except this time in the UK and centered around beer.  From CNBC:

Britain’s favorite pint of bitter is being watered down as austerity continues to bite and taxes rise.

John Smith’s Extra Smooth, billed as “no nonsense beer”, is being reduced from 3.8 percent alcohol to 3.6 percent in response to rising costs and reduced beer consumption.

Heineken, which is also raising the cost of the famous bitter by about 2.5 pence a pint, said it was bringing John Smith’s “in line with competitor smooth ales that already sit at or below this alcoholic strength”, including its biggest rival, Carlsberg’s Tetley Smoothflow.

Now here is my favorite line:


“Extensive research conducted with retailers and consumers consistently confirmed that a 0.2 percent reduction in [alcohol content] does not compromise on the taste and quality,” a Heineken U.K. spokesman said.

Um yeah, but it does compromise on the alcohol…the main reason most people drink beer in the first place.

Heineken blamed the rising cost of energy and ingredients such as barley – as well as higher beer duty – for the increase.

There you go.  Finally the truth comes out; the culprit is inflation.  Taste that beer?  That’s the taste of you getting poorer.

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Joe A's picture

Good point. Everybody is different and composition of taste buds varies. Some people just have a natural dislike for certain food, perhaps also as a form of self protection against food to which someone is allergic. But some taste is aqcuired over time. I read somewhere that young people have a preference for certain types of taste, especially sweet. Exposing children only to these tastes will underdevelop the other tastes and that will not be corrected later in life, so it is gone. The food industry knows that all to well and specifically targets the sweet tooth in children's food.

As I child I hated Brussels sprouts. Now I am glad that my parents made me ate them. I love them now.

akak's picture

Funny, I have always LOVED Brussel sprouts, even as a child when I disliked many other foods that I now enjoy --- sauerkraut, mushrooms, aged cheeses, eggs, and quite a few others.  I've even recently learned to enjoy (as a flavoring) a local variety of stink bug that I have never seen nor heard of anyone using (they smell and taste exactly like cilantro!), so I don't think that anyone could claim that I am narrow-minded when it comes to food.  But I am afraid that at my advanced age I will simply NEVER learn to like beets, horseradish or beer --- despite many attempts, those foods are simply far beyond my realm of possible likeability, for whatever reason.

But as the old proverb states, De gustibus non est disputandum.

Joe A's picture

Cheers for loving to eat the foods you mentioned. As for beer, beets or horseradish, not just your thing. My wife loves horseradish up to the point where she breaks out in tears and sweat. I might consider these grounds for divorce if we would ever get to that point which I hope and expect we won't. I only eat Wasabi aka Japanese horseradish with my Sushi but even then very sparsely.

TruthInSunshine's picture

akak, you've not been properly indoctrinated, my good friend ( me):

The Chimay Triple on tap


ebworthen's picture

Oh Hell Akak, I love pickled beets, horseradish, a cold hoppy lager, Imperial Stout, oysters, liver, blue cheese, Rouquefort, kidney, and cow tongue.

Maybe I'm an alien?  Dunno.  Do you like single malt whiskey, a tart Canbernet, or Filet Mignon?  Maybe we're just cousins, or you're my Brother from another Mother (?).

akak's picture

Well, the beets and the horseradish are gag city for me, as previously stated, and I'm no fan of beer, again as stated, but the rest are fine or excellent.  Raw oysters I never even tried until I was in my 30s, but I instantly loved them, being surprised at how delicate in flavor and UN-"slimy" they actually are (but we have some of the very finest oysters in the world in my vicinity, so perhaps I am spoiled). Raw sea urchin roe (the Japanese "uni"), directly from the animal, is exquisite, but sadly is far too perishable to be enjoyed with its true and full natural flavor unless you harvest it yourself.

Honestly, I will try ANYTHING if I know it is edible, and even gave durian several tries before deciding that that particular fruit was on my very short "RUN AWAY!" list of foods.

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

I always felt the same way about the taste of beer as you akak and still do. It always tended to give me a headache anyway as does wine and champagne to this day. If I'm drinking alcohol at all, it's to get drunk, not to enjoy the taste (which is why I drink 1-2 times a year tops). I still hate lima beans and beets but learned to like mushrooms and horseradish as a garnish for certain foods. I liked oysters (with horseradish and bacon) from the Eastern Shore of MD until a relative caught hepatitis from them at an oyster fest. As you said, taste varies widely.

IrritableBowels's picture

Ever heard of horseradish on a roast beef sandwhich?

Who is really the alien here?!


Not a fan of lima beans and water chestnuts.

ebworthen's picture

So in the U.S. this would equate to nearly all ice cream manufacturers who have changed their containers from 64 ounces (Half Gallon) to 48 ounces while keeping the price the same. 

They narrowed the base and widened the top of the containers and said "Same great taste, now easier to scoop!"

Yeah, and 25% less ice cream you scumbags!

25% less on your savings!

25% less freedom!

25% more surveillance!

25% less privacy!

Ain't Western Democracy grand!  Like, 25% more grand than indentured servitude!

Like, 25% more grand than living under the  hegemony of a Monarchy or a despotic tyrant!


Ralph Spoilsport's picture

My pet peeve on this is the incredibly shrinking bag of 8 O'Clock Coffee beans which has gone from a full pound down to a puny 11 oz. bag selling for the same or more as the 16 oz. bag used to. When they have a BOGO sale I load up on them but even then it's still around $7 a pound. That still beats the outrageous price that Starbucks gets for their burnt-tasting crap or the peculiar tasting Dunkin Donuts concoction that passes for coffee.

secret_sam's picture

Not to suggest the Starbucks coffee is worth the bucks, but it's NOT all "burnt-tasting."

See--they always brew a "bold" (which you can basically take to mean "burnt") blend, and they serve that to anyone who's too ignorant to specify what they want.  The burnt stuff is generally lower quality beans, which they overroast to hide the inferiority.

It's been awhile since I could get my hands on the stuff, but Ethiopian Sidamo, Guatemalan Casi Cielo, Yukon, and Pike's Place used to (about 5 years ago) make for really tremendous cups of coffee.

(There really is something to this, by the way.  Just like there really is something to the relative quality/flavor of wine, beer, cheese, etc.)

IridiumRebel's picture

I'm a recovering alcoholic so this thread ain't the best for me, but if I could.....BOURBON BARREL STOUT. Jeebus Christmas. If you never had, find a microbrewery that creates this stuff. It's liquid gold. 6 years one day at a time.

ebworthen's picture

An Imperial Stout?

Fine brew, takes a lot of malt and hops, can bottle age for a long time because of the high alcohol content, close to that of some wines (10%-12% depending).

Not cheap to make.

The American brewers have gradually conditioned drinkers here to accept less and less malt in the name of "light" and "fewer calories" because it means they use less malt and hops and more water (eg. - cheaper).

"Bud Light" or "Miller Lite" or the "Ultra" beers that are little more than seltzer water.  Ick!

Imagine that, a U.S. entity conditioning it's constituents to accept less and less while having them pay as much or more.

The decent mircrobrews and microbrewerey's have gained a lot of market share and make some good brews, but many of the sheeple accept the loss of quality and character in the big major brews and keep buying it without thinking.

JamesBond's picture

I live in Germany at the moment.  Small stores and resturants are moving to cash only to avoid

taxes.  Expect Germany's tax revenues to drop significantly during 2013.



Peter Pan's picture

The same thing is happening with politicians. We seem to be paying more and more and getting less and less in terms of leadership and ideas.

steelrules's picture

Water in beer, I just watched a BBC World report and horse meat is showing up in beef burgers.

devo's picture

Fucking Bernanke.


orangegeek's picture

Heiny is just another corp looking to drive out cost.  Why?  Because sales are flat and like most other corps, they've fired all the people they can.


So now it's time to get nickeled and dimed on product quality.


Here's an idea.  Stop drinking beer or better yet stop drinking.

foxenburg's picture

I just spoke to the duty monk at Westvleteren, ordered my usual 2 cases, and to be safe asked if they had joined the trend of watering their stuff down. He assured me not.

css1971's picture

I've had a thesis that inflation causes product quality to decline over time, which leads to waste in terms of energy, materials and human effort. Things wear out faster, break more readily, more packaging, more filler, more transport, more disposable, planned obsolescence and so on.

Glad to see it being confirmed before my eyes.

Deflation would have the opposite effect, product quality would tend to increase; Things are expected to last longer, are better made, more efficient etc.


In fact I'm surprised that the Greens are not all over monetary policy.

smacker's picture

Adding to this, late last evening news broke that Tesco Supermarket's own-label hamburgers have been found to contain horsemeat.

Tesco have been under a lot of pressure in recent times for poor trading figures. Horsemeat hamburgers will create bigger problems.


Add: whoops...looks like some quick ZHers already mentioned this story....

Pseudolus's picture


Only plebs drink this pathetic synthetic imitation of Lager anyway

UK is having a flight to quality that the MNC's cant meet as theyre geared up for huge capacity

Real brewing is resurgent - and I dont mean your Watneys Red Barrel

Alcoholic Native American's picture


fredquimby's picture


The way Bush prounced that word, nobody knew if he meant terrorist or tourist.  So they just shoot both... just to be on the safe side.


JamesBond's picture

speaking of watered down piss.....

The French Are Back!



French triple troops in Mali, prepare for ground assault

After a punishing bombing campaign failed to stop the southward advance of al-Qaida-linked fighters, France announced Tuesday that it is tripling the number of troops deployed to Mali, strongly suggesting that French forces are preparing for a land assault to dislodge the extremists.

Uncle Zuzu's picture

Is this inflation in the photo natural or is it a push-up from the Fed?

yourfather's picture

to be fair, one of my favourite beers is the Paulaner Hefeweissen Alkoholfrei. 0% alcohol, actually quite nice and only $1.70 for 500ml bottles here...

spanish inquisition's picture

0.2 percent reduction in [alcohol content] does not compromise on the taste and quality

Anyone else translate that as adding 5% more water into the beer after processing?

On our way to Victory Gin bitches!

lakecity55's picture

Another reason I am glad I quit adult beverages.

But, I am still Steamed and wired up about the Coffee scandal last week.

What's next? Tungsten?

Racer's picture

Horsemeat found in beef burgers on sale in UK and Ireland

orkneylad's picture


Red diesel isn’t what it was, anyone working farm machinery these days will tell you so.

A loaf of real bread -as opposed to the standard supermarket muck- will cost you almost double. Over the course of this year, I’ve noticed a marked reduction in the quality of rolling tobacco, scotch whiskey, car tyres, coal, the quality of our tap water, this list could go on almost indefinately. At the same time, costs for acquiring these consumables continues to rise; the subtle entropy in quality masks an inflationary force that would set off alarm bells if this trend was truly factored in.

It’s the endless spiral of an economy that appears to be a gutted shell of its former self; what begins with the removal of ‘one olive from the jar’ gradually leads to seemingly wholesale ‘product entropy’.

Winston Smith was an intellectual, he lived an austere existence in a one-room flat on a subsistence diet of black bread and synthetic meals, washed down with Victory-brand gin. He kept a journal of negative thoughts and opinions about the Party and Big Brother, which, if uncovered by the Thought Police, would warrant death. The flat had an alcove, beside the telescreen, where he apparently could not be seen, and thus believed he had some privacy, while writing in his journal: “Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death.” The telescreens had hidden microphones and cameras. These devices, alongside informers, permited the Thought Police to spy upon everyone and so identify anyone who might endanger the Party’s régime; children -most of all- were indoctrinated to spy and inform on suspected thought-criminals – especially their parents.

We are still allowed to openly express some of our thoughtcrimes, but an ill-advised tweet can already lead to jail-time. Virtually all our computers & phones come equipped with cameras, you can even embed ‘spyware’ into your operating system -should your computer be stolen- which will allow you to watch & record the miscreant as he enjoys his ill-gotten gains -perhaps this is why we see a growing trend in people taping over the camera-eyes on their ipads?

How long until we fully become Oceania is anyone’s guess. The next step is the neutering of the World Wide Web, and plans are afoot already.

Enjoy your gin.

laosuwan's picture

I am skeptical on this story because 0.2% alcohol weight by volume is less than the error of measurement using standard lab chemistry to determine alcohol content of beer.

DOT's picture

Measure the sugar before and after fermentation to achieve an improved measurement.


laosuwan's picture

actually you dont mean measure the sugar but measure the specific gravity before and after fermentation. This would give you mass which you would then have to convert to volume by a conversion factor. Still, the error of measurement is as great as the change in percentage mentioned  in this article. I remain skeptical.

rwe2late's picture

 Just another step on the road to the ideal business model.

100% water sold as "beer",

drained from the privatized (formerly public) reservoir,

unregulated and profits untaxed,

wages and capital costs reimbursed by the state

for "creating jobs".

All paid for by new fiat and taxes on beer consumption.

TruthInSunshine's picture

In the year 2050, there will be a) Brawndo, or b) toilet water.

And only Brawndo has electrolytes, which plants crave.

sells2soon's picture

OMG!  Devalued money, diluted beer, horse meat in hamburgers, lower quality coffee beans substitued in - is nothing safe??

At least you can still rely gold being safe from dilution...


BobRocket's picture

Blitzkrieg ME109 is the only beer for me, I had 4 cans and woke up two days later in the shed with a bucket on my head and diced carrots all over my trousers.

It also turned my bottom lip blue and my piss green.



DaMule's picture

I bought a case of Becks the other day and when I cracked open the first one I noticed a difference. When I looked at the label I realized it is no longer a German import but is now brewed in the U S.

sessinpo's picture

Beer? I was looking at the image and thinking I wanted two jugs.

mickeyman's picture

I get thrills from pills but mostly chills from robitussen and a bottle of Nyquil

Ecstacy's okay with me, on airplane glue you smoke I chew

Mohawk girl with a needle in her neck, nervous wreck can i collect

Nicotine is so obscene and caffeine only makes me mean

Huffin' spraypaint ain't so quaint, it gives you headaches, makes you faint,

Well I tried em all and it might sound queer, but my favorite drug is a nice cold beer,

Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, we love beer.

marathonman's picture

Watering down the beer?  This crisis is getting serious.  Time to go all prepper and buy a home brew kit. 

Walt D.'s picture

Watering beer? Back before Robert Peel was Prime Minister in the 1840's, watering beer was a hanging offense (or at least a flogging offense)!

NEOSERF's picture

What next, horsemeat for hamburger, kidneys for chicken nuggets...the bugs will have the last laugh at some point this century.

americanspirit's picture

If alcohol is the main reason people drink beer please explain the popularity of 'light beer' in the US. Perhaps just more evidence of what easily manipulated fools so many Americans are?

Actually reducing the alcohol content of beer is a pretty effective way to increase sales of shots on the side.

clawsthatscratch's picture

I brew my own if I want really good beer.

resurger's picture

shit! more sober people, this is bad, a revoulution will arise