I see the Russians have passed a law classifying beer as alcoholic. Up to now, it was promoted as the healthy alternative to vodka, which tells you a lot about Russia, where they have a huge health problem with people drinking domestic cleaning fluids, boot polish and anything else that can get you off your head cheaply, even if it does happen to paralyse or kill you as a side effect.
How about this? Before Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev signed the Bill into law, beer was considered a foodstuff in Russia. Not only that : anything containing 10% alcohol or less was regarded as food.
Now, I know we Irish are notorious piss-heads, and I know we always had a saying about Guinness —there’s eatin’ and drinkin’ in it — but when it all came down to dust, we knew it was liquor. It makes you drunk. A friend of mine routinely orders his round in the pub with Four pints of drink, please, and the staff know exactly what to hand out.
We know stout, ale or lager get you drunk (and in some cases laid) and we also know that they contain between 4% and 5% alcohol, for the most part. I became very partial to the occasional bottle of Guinness Export Special, but I was well aware it had a very high alcohol content — 7.5% –and while that didn’t stop me drinking it, I knew full well it would blow my head off if I overdid it.
I sometimes overdid it anyway, because the delicious malty, syrupy taste of it seduced me and summoned up those long-gone, fabled days of my father’s youth where earnest men would gather in some secluded snug, rolling pints of bottled Triple X on their palates and debating the Big Match. Triple X, malty, nutritious and so rich, according to the old fellows that if you left your glass too long on the table, it would stick there and you’d never be able to lift it off.
They brew it in Nigeria these days, and I like it very much, but I don’t think it’s food. It’s drink and it makes you drunk, yet it’s only 7.5% alcohol, which is well within the Russian wholesomess limits. It’s almost a health food. Probiotic beer, with added fibre, vitamins and life-improving Reiki essence-of-smugness. It Feng Shuis your house while you lie on the floor drunk. When you wake up, the whole place is tidy. Aaaarrrggghhh!!
I did a quick search to see what the strongest beers are, and admittedly there are some that would not qualify as food, even in Russia. Kulminator Urtyp Hell is considered an extremely strong brew and I have, of course, sampled it. A fine beer, despite its 14.5% strength, it will lay you flat on your back in seconds if you fail to respect it, and yet seven bottles of Kulminator are no more potent than ten bottles of something the Russians considered a foodstuff.
I’m telling you now. Don’t launch a winter war against these people. They can take damage and keep standing.
I like Russians. They might be reserved on first contact, but when you get to know them, they’re very straight and up-front. They don’t do bullshit, apart from the occasional oligarch, but half of those guys are in jail now, thanks to the King of the KGB, Vlad the Impaler.
My mechanic is Russian and he’s great. His name is Sulev, and he will not rob you. Today I took a car to the NCT, and it did reasonably all right considering its age (much like myself), but I thought last week I should do some pre-emptive stuff, so I dropped in to Sulev.
Look, I said. They’re going to rev the shit out of the engine. Do you think maybe we should change the timing belt, just in case?
Change timing belt? Is big job. Is not small thing. I must all front of car remove, take down radiator, take off bumper, headlights, all this. Full day work. Big,. big job. It cost you money and not necessary. Timing belt is fine. No need spend money now.
Ok. Translate that to an Irish mechanic.
Lucky you called. One more mile and that engine would blow itself to bits. Leave it with me and I promise I’ll have a look in the next week or two, but it’s not gonna be cheap.
Russians are great for many reasons. They gave the world most of its chess masters, most of its mathematicians, most of its composers and all the guys who prance around in tights with their knobs hanging out like complete fucking eejits.
They are logical, sensible, practical people, and they are piss-heads like us.
But really, even an Irish person would have to baulk at the idea that a 10% beer is food. Now if they reduced it to something reasonable like, oh, let’s see, maybe 4.7%? Mmm. Couldn’t see much wrong with that. It’s almost lemonade.