We Tried an £18 Pint to See If It Was Worth It
Guess what? That's right.
One of the most common tropes and complaints of our progressively unliveable society is the ever-increasing price of your regular pint of beer. Northern people could write a War-and-Peace-esque tome on how down south a pint costs more than a ha'penny and a freshly smithed nail or whatever the currency is up there. And to be fair to the grumbling fuckers, they have a point. Nothing is more laughable than talking to your parents about how much alcohol and fags cost when they were your age. A 20 deck of tabs, a pint and a pie, all in for a pound. Now we have to drink actual piss from pipes that get cleaned about as regularly as a squatter's knob and hand over a changeless fiver for the privilege.
Around the corner from us here at VICE there is a pub called The Griffin. The Griffin used to be what most people would call 'a shithole that reeks so strongly of piss that you have to suppress retching when you use the toilet', but since a recent redevelopment, it has changed into a swanky, shiny version of its former self. Among your more typical London £5 pints, it now also sells an £18 beer that is imbued with 'champagne hops'. (Though it is worth mentioning that because the beer comes in a large bottle equivalent to 1.3 pints, it's probably more like £13 a pint.)
Contrary to popular belief, we at VICE are not that into craft beers and such. Mostly we drink lager that tastes like it was made with rain, or get a vodka soda when we're trying to lose weight. We are peasants through and through. But Brooklyn Brewery's Sorachi Ace beer was not made for peasants. It was made for Norse gods and samurais. We wanted to do a blind taste test of this grog to see how it stacked up against other grogs. Off we ventured to the Griffin to try this weird booze, whose hoppy discovery is described on its website as being "deemed "odd" and end(ing) up quickly banished to a laboratory".
Should it have stayed in Walter White's Piss-Up Palace? Or is this the best cot dang beer I've ever tried? Let's find out with a blind taste test!
"This sort of tastes like every fragrant, hoppy ale that I've ever had that I order by mistake when I'm feeling a little frivolous. It's all right. The problem with these booze drinks is that they get sickly very quickly. It's quite nondescript. Maybe it's a guest ale, that's called Hades' Arsehole or something like that."
IS IT THE £18 BEER?: No, this is a run of the mill Brooklyn Lager.
"That's hoppy as well, but I don't know whether that's because it's a shit lager that's come through clean pipes. Sometimes you get Stellas and stuff that are actually alright because they've cleaned the pipes, whereas in some places it tastes like shit because the staff clean the pipes with their own piss. I would say that's a Stella but I don't think they do Stella in there so I'm gonna say it's like a Litovel or something, a Czech lager."
IS IT THE £18 BEER?: No, this is your standard pint glass filled to the brim with Camden Hells, an annoying name for a beer if ever there was one.
"Fucking hell. That tastes like soap. I've got a feeling this is the £18 pint but it's a fucking gross. It tastes like it's trying really hard to be an extra, super flavourful weird thing, but the head tastes like washing up foam and the beer itself has such a sharp harshness – it's really horrible. It's undrinkably bad. Did you actually give me a pint glass full of dishwater as a laugh?"
IS IT THE £18 BEER?: Yes! It is! This murky amber trough slop is the fabled £18 beer. Which is a lot for a drink that made me feel like I was being drowned in a dishwasher.
Here are some other people's thoughts on the £18 beer:
"Too much going on here, way too many contrasts."
"I've got a cold at the moment that was already making me a bit drowsy. Let me tell you, sipping on some expensive beer at lunch has completely ruined my productivity for the rest of the day. That's one in the eye for my corporate overlords, and well worth £18 of their money."
"Once you get past the detergent-y spume on top of the beer, it's not unlike a festival Tuborg, or really anything you'll have drunk out of a paper pint cup. Beer that doesn't really taste how beer should taste."
"It was nice, unremarkable, sort of organic-tasting. I would order it over the other two if they all cost the same price."
"The fancy beer smelled like home brew and tasted of everything at once. Like it's not exactly bad but it also tastes like someone tried to make a beer that has the same notes as wine and the thing turned out really sour and cloudy but they were too far into the brewing process to back out so just put it in a bottle and marked it up at £18 so nobody would ever buy it and find out."
So there we have it.
More from VICE: