United Kingdom

Beer Is Cheaper Than Water—When You Compare Really Cheap Beer to Expensive Water

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The London Times reports that British anti-alcohol activists and public health officials are angry because "alcohol now costs less than water." Well, to be more accurate, "it is possible to buy beer cheaper than water." Specifically, the grocery store chains Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, and Sainsbury's "are among those selling beer at just over 5p per 100ml, " which "contrasts with a typical price of about 8p for 100ml of brand-name mineral water" (emphasis added). The British Medical Association says "it is a real worry that you can buy alcohol cheaper than mineral water." According to the activist group Alcohol Concern, "The evidence shows young people and harmful drinkers are drawn to very cheap alcohol," so "a lot of these sales are irresponsible." Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England and Wales, wants to ban them by setting minimum prices for alcoholic beverages.

Even if Britain were full of "harmful drinkers" who choose their beverages based on price, the Perrier/pilsener comparison would not make much sense, since tap water (not to mention Smart Price sparkling water, 5 pence a liter at Asda) will always be cheaper than the most deeply discounted beer. I do shudder to think, however, what sort of "value lager or bitter" can be had for less than 40 cents a pint.

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53 responses to “Beer Is Cheaper Than Water—When You Compare Really Cheap Beer to Expensive Water

  1. The London Times reports that British anti-alcohol activists and public health officials are angry because “alcohol now costs less than water.”

    What do you mean with “and”? Aren’t the two the same people?

  2. I do shudder to think, however, what sort of “value lager or bitter” can be had for less than 40 cents a pint.

    First, you hold the bottle under the horse….

    1. You can buy really crappy beer here for around $6 a 12, which comes out to around 65 cents a pint. You can also pay considerably more for equally crappy beer, think coors light. The wise consumer would stick to expensive water at that point.

      1. In GA we have one of the highest beer taxes in the USA AND monopoly distribution. I saw Schlitz High Gravity cans at the liquor store today for $5 a 12. My usual PBR bottles were $8.

  3. According to the activist group Alcohol Concern, “The evidence shows young people and harmful drinkers are drawn to very cheap alcohol,” so “a lot of these sales are irresponsible.

    Mercifull Athena, you have found the mother of all non sequiturs!

    1. Were there any justice in this world, we could just shoot people that say things like that, and do so with no repercussions.

  4. Its pure insanity when a liter of water is $1.39 and the gallon below it is $1.59, and out of the tap is 3 cents.

  5. Chemically water (H2O) is the simplest alcohol.

    1. Isn’t alcohol an organic compound requiring a carbon atom?

      1. Isn’t it an Alkane with one hydroxyl in place of one of the hydrogen atoms? In effect a partially oxidized alkane.

    2. Uh, I’m pretty sure that just the existence of a hydroxyl group isn’t sufficient to be classified as an alcohol.

      1. Somewhere in space, thousands of light years away, is a species that gets totally blitzed from drinking water.

        1. “Ah, look at them, pitiful earthlings, having to ferment their beverages in order to inebriate themselves while we secretly steal their dihydrogen monoxide ….”

      2. H2O qualifies an acid and a base, I think alcohols might be more complicated than that.

  6. Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England and Wales, wants to ban them by setting minimum prices for alcoholic beverages.

    It shouldn’t be surprising that almost all clueless and economics-illiterate bureaucrats resort to such economically-fallacious solutions to quelch their busybody impulses.

    Placing a minimum price on something – well, that will not create a black market, would it???

  7. Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England and Wales, wants to ban them by setting minimum prices for alcoholic beverages.

    Fortunately, Diageo and Inbev will fight tooth and nail.

  8. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a grocery store looking for bottled water, been enticed by dangerously low-priced beer, and gone on a week-long binge.

    1. Tell me about it!

  9. I do shudder to think, however, what sort of “value lager or bitter” can be had for less than 40 cents a pint.

    The kind that comes out of British faucets.

    1. Or goes into British loos.

  10. I knew Jesus wasn’t doing anyone any favors when He changed water into wine. He was probably pulling that scam all over the place, pocketing the difference and making a nice profit.

  11. I do shudder to think, however, what sort of “value lager or bitter” can be had for less than 40 cents a pint.

    Milwaukee’s Best is 60 cents a can.

    1. Oxymorons:
      Milwaukee’s Best
      Jumbo Shrimp
      Honest Politician

    2. The Beast still lives?

  12. I’m puzzling over the significance of their saying harmful rather than harmed drinkers. On first blush it seems a micron better, but of course they should have nothing whatsoever to say about it.

    Again, I happen to be a teetotaler, but that’s a choice I make for myself rather than for anyone else.

    My philosophy about that is consistent with:

    Cocaine don’t make me crazy,
    champagne don’t make me lazy.
    Ain’t nobody’s business but my own.
    Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
    You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica.
    Ain’t nobody’s business but my own.

    You can drive your big Cadillac to church on Sunday
    You can hang around the house with your baby on monday
    Ain’t nobody’s business but your own
    I don’t care what in the world that you do
    Long as you do what you say you’re going to
    Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

    Now I know some of you cuties, yeah you real fine cuties
    You gonna step downtown just to hang around
    Standing on the corner so the fellas will stare and say
    oooooooooo,…ain’t she sweet

    You can walk downtown in your birthday suit
    I see you comin out of the bank with a whole lotta loot
    Ain’t nobody’s business what you do
    They say cocaine is for horses, that it ain’t for men
    The doctor said it’ll kill me but he won’t say when
    Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

  13. I have used the first two lines of that ditty for a large number of years and never knew the rest of the words. Thanks, anarch, for posting them.

    And for the gravy, I agree 100% with the sentiment!

    … Hobbit

  14. I checked to make sure it hadn’t been covered:
    Beer has to be >90% water in order to be, legally, beer. The rest is alcohol and various compounds that influence flavor.
    So beer makers are processing the grains, adding the water and selling it for less than water.
    And this bozo is griping because the beer is too cheap? If you’re going to ‘marx’ a market, why not gripe about the ‘high-priced spread’?

    1. Probably doesn’t apply to Britain that I’m aware, at least, but in the US grain is subsidized even, so they’d be even less able to complain about the low price.

  15. Their is something more dangerous than cheap beer in the water in Britain. The limeys have completely lost their fucking minds. And not just their politicians. If you are not convinced, go over to one of their blogs like the telegraph and post for a while and check out some of the insane comments, they are about a kilometer left of most at Daily Kos. The thing that pisses me off about the Brits is that our own socialist administration seems to get their ideas from them.

  16. Their is something more dangerous than cheap beer in the water in Britain. The limeys have completely lost their fucking minds. And not just their politicians. If you are not convinced, go over to one of their blogs like the telegraph and post for a while and check out some of the insane comments, they are about a kilometer left of most at Daily Kos. The thing that pisses me off about the Brits is that our own socialist administration seems to get their ideas from them.

  17. Damn little miniature laptop, 2 beers and I seem to hit return twice, grrrr. How do I delete a double post here?

    1. …are a prime example of the harmful drinker whose victims we are protecting.

      1. Lol, it is these little miniature laptops that are really dangerous with their tiny keyboard and crappy celeron processors, raging blog posters all hopped up on beer pale in comparison to their evil

  18. How do I delete a double post here?

    The server squirrels can only be appeased with your still beating heart…

    1. I don’t even like the squirrels that are always messing with stuff on my deck, but at least I can paintball their asses when my girlfriend isn’t watching, but these server squirrels…. little bastards.

  19. If it’s beating, it’s not still.

    1. Hey!

      Remember what happened to Socrates when he got all tricky and clever?

  20. At my local chain grocery stores a 30 pack of Keystone is 12.99 which is 43c a beer.

  21. I do shudder to think, however, what sort of “value lager or bitter” can be had for less than 40 cents a pint.

    Not too hard to do on your own. If you go with prefabricated kit your looking at $30ish for a decent beer, that comes to $.75 a pint. If you buy the grains and hops in some manner of bulk, get the yeast for free from a local micro, and break down the costs of miscellaneous shit per batch, $.50 pints of just about any beer you want are easily doable. (this is after the equipment sink, time not included) You also get whatever beer you want and have the means to produce something that will be in demand after the zombie invasion.

    1. You could easily cheap it up and probably hit $.25 per pint, but why do that when you can have awesome brew at $.50 a pint.

  22. Wow, this actually seemes pretty reasonable to me.

    Jess
    http://www.online-invisibility.net.tc

    1. anonymity-tool is a temperance crusader
      you just can’t figure that guy out.

  23. Jacob, I think you mean Asda, not Adsa.

  24. Mean while, alcohol excise duty has driven the cost of a pint of Budvar to about GBP3.50 (USD5.58) in a central London pub, and a 500mL bottle to GBP1.49 (USD2.38) in supermarkets.

  25. Here in Boston they hiked the local taxes on alcohol this year. And you really notice the absence of problem drinkers in town now. [/sarcasm]

  26. Even if it’s 40 cents per beer in a 24-pack, that’s only because you’re buying in bulk. How can you compare a bulk rate price to the price of a single bottle of water?

    1. Exactly. How anyone can fail to see that this comparison is completely fucking stupid and meaningless?

  27. It is too funny how they promote this as if they have discovered something new. Cheap beer is not a new thing. Expensive bottled water has been around for a long time. This comparison could be made in any place at any time in the last 40 years.
    This says a lot more about the ridiculousness of the price of battled water than it does about beer.

  28. It also means that there are people who would rather pay more money to drink water than pay less money to drink cheap beer. Is that so bad?

  29. You can indeed go to Tesco and find cheap beer ? a Tesco in Poland or the Czech Republic, that is. In the latter, I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of ?0.25 per 500 mL bottle of good-quality local beer.

    About the only thing I’ve ever seen in a UK supermarket that could be called cheap was some nice French Brie that Sainsbury’s had on sale once for ?3.29/kg.

  30. Speaking as a Brit who’s tried some of these cheap beers, I don’t know what their problem is, as a lot of it is “making love in a canoe” beer anyway.

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