Scrooged: or A Cautionary Tale Of How Beer Got Fecked

The Session this month, on the topic of 'A Christmas Carol' , is brought to you by Phil at Beersay.

No apologies for length. It's been a long day and I find rambling writing marvellously carthartic. If you have five minutes to spare and hold out for a laugh ot two, grab yourself a beer and carry on reading...

Scrooge was ready to settle in for Christmas Eve. Newly imported naughty parchments, a ceramic pot of Mrs Arbuthnott's Self-Enhancement Embrocation and a case of Throxheards Old Unobtainable. So why the Dickens was there a ghost at the end of his bed?

"Why is there a ghost at the end of my bed?" said Scrooge in a far-too-obvious way.

"SCROOGE! I am the ghost of Jacob..." Scrooge let out a sheet-ripper of Krakatoan proportions, made all the more remarkable by the fact that the volcano wouldn't erupt for another forty years.

"Ooh, that's better," Scrooge declared. "This stuff goes through me quicker than a ticker round Sheffield. What did you say your name was? Jacob... Barley? Whatever. Get on with it. This embrocation cost me a groat and it's starting to wear off already. What do you want?"

Barley (as we shall name the Ghost for mediocre comedic effect) drew himself up to his full height. "SCROOGE! Self-pleasuring yourself alongside bottle-conditioned beer is no way to spend Christmas Eve. We all know that's what you should do on Boxing Day morning. You will be visited by three Ghosts who will help you change your ways..."

And as if by magic, Barley was gone. And Scrooge had barely turned the corner of his favourite parchment before another spectral thingy appeared.

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past", it said. For, indeed, it was he. "I am going to take you back to your youth".

Scrooge looked horrified. "NO! Not tank-tops and brown corduroy!" In the Formica-clad bar, a fug of smoke parted occasionally. Scrooge peered around the drinkers within. "Look!" he cried, "there's me with a pint of cask-pulled Osbourne's Extra Bitter! There's Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego drinking keg mild. Old Mother Cudlipp with a bottle of Nursing Mother's Barely Wine. The rugger buggers on rounds of Lort XXXX. And everyone's having a great time..."

"Ah, yes, they were the days, " the GOCP sighed. "Everyone went down the pub, drank what they fancied, didn't analyse it and had a good time. Including you. Look. You're so mesmerised by the barmaid's meringues that you bought a round". "True," said Scrooge. "And what we drank wasn't as important as the fact that we all drank together..."

And as if by magic, the GOCP was gone.

Scrooge had a wistful look in his rheumy eye when, as if by magic, the Ghost of Christmas Present appeared. "Put that away and get a move on," said the GOCP (the Narrator, at this stage, recognises the fatal flaw of lazy acronyms but has come this far and can't be arsed to rewrite). "I'm taking you to places that you've never seen before".

A supermarket full of happy topers buying own-brand beers, bargain regional offerings, esoteric craft brews and continental oddities. "They all look so happy," mused Scrooge, "everyone finding something that they love to drink and being inspired to try something new".

An ex-miner's cottage, now home to migrant farmworkers enjoying fecking great platters of meat and cheese along with crates of everyone's favourite European lagers: Blinky, Plop and Sod. "Look how they've sourced tasty food and beer from a discount supermarket that I wouldn't normally be seen dead in, even though it's damn cheap, "said Scrooge.

A pub where, albeit after a fair bit of quality pre-loading, those home drinkers had come together to have random conversations and tell amazingly-still-funny jokes about the landlord's baubles.

And then to a lighthouse, where a lone worker was enjoying a 75cl bottle of whisky-barrel-aged stout in clear contravention of both health & safety and maritime law. "He's all alone on Christmas Eve," opined Scrooge, "and despite the inflated postage costs of mail order beer to the outlying island zones of the British Isles, he's really happy. Look, he's beaming at a parchment...."

"Whoah.. time to go!" said the GOCP. And, as if by magic, they did.

By now, Scrooge's head was in a spin. And not just from the bottle of poppers he kept stashed under the bed for, ahem, special evenings. But there was no rest for the grumpy. The Ghost of Christmas Future hoved into view.

He took Scrooge to a room set out in several shades of grey. One tap dripped a viscous liquid into cups crusted with the detritus of previous customers. There was no music, no conversation. A shoebox containing a dead hamster would have more atmosphere.

Scrooge was confused. "What's happening here?", he enquired. "Why do these sad sacks sit around sipping stuff from sad schooners?"

The GOCF ignored Scrooge's superfluous alliteration. "This is what happened after the Beer Wars. Craft beer priced itself out of the market, the international brewers offered premium branded beer at discount prices and the vast majority of drinkers realised that they could drink somewhere that was warm, comfy and convenient with a huge 3D telly. Their living room. When the beercos twigged that everyone else was happy to drink beer regardless of how it tastes, this became the standard on-license model. They're having a trough installed next week".

"But what about microbrewers and craft beer and diversity?" wailed Scrooge. "Actually, fuck them - what happened to Throxheards Old Unobtainable?"

"Sold up", said the GOGF. "Hard to blame them, really. The family hadn't been near a mash tun in two generations. Turning the tower brewery into heritage flats and retiring to the beach to drink iced-cold buckets of Cabron was too much of a lure. There was a point when everything beery seemed so positive. But then there were fractions and fragmentation. Everyone ended up on endless blogs bemoaning everything that was actually innovative and interesting but not quite to their blinkered taste. Meanwhile, the big boys did what they do best; buy up emergent markets, lobby for tax breaks and let the niche within a niche bury itself under ever more hyperbole".

Scrooge let out a rasping breath, lifted his lidded lids to look the GOCF straight in the eye and said:

"Oh, shite".

"If you think that's bad," said the GOCF, "there's more".

The grave stood neglected and untended. Lichen on it glistened only as it had been used recently as a urinal. A name, worn away by a curt breeze, threatened to crumble when Scrooge fingered the engraving.

"Is this it?" Scrooge challenged the GOCF. "Is this how it has to end? A piss-stained relic forgotten in the corner of a churchyard where even the knell of parting day doesn't reach?"

The GOCF was impressed by Scrooge's heart-felt sentiment and unexpected command of eighteenth-century poetry. "Perhaps, perhaps.The sun is setting here. So, just maybe, what you see are the shadows of what may be..."

As if by magic, it was Christmas Day. Scrooge rubbed his tired eyes and tried to recall the enormity of the night before. Could it be? Had he really reached out and discovered the Spirit of Beer? Understood exactly what needed to be done to stop the beer lovers of the world from tearing themselves apart? How to persuade people that beer - the best long drink in the world, no matter what guise it's delivered in - is brewed for enjoyment above all other?

He threw the parchments on the fire, fetched up a bottle of Throxheards Vintage Christmas Special from the cellar and threw open the front door. Maybe he should make a steaming bowl of Smoking Bishop and offer it to the waifs in the street? On reflection, he decided to sod off to the pub.

To drink everything and nothing. To talk to everyone and no-one. And to remember that if beer isn't fun, it isn't beer anymore.


  1. Waiting for the publication of the illustrated version!

    Good job si

  2. Great read! I tried to make a similar correlation in my post, but yours is actually fun to read! Cheers!


  3. hats off! Excellent read and even better point.

  4. Brilliant Si, absolutely loved reading this a real chuckle fest with a serious message tucked away in the mesmerising words too. Now where can I get my hands on some of Mrs Arbuthnott's Self-Enhancement Embrocation???


  5. Here's a link to last months round up of Decembers which I hosted over in my blog Beersay. Thanks again for posting.

    Session #58 A Christmas Carol - Final round up