Beer goggles land optimist in jail

19 October, 2007

If a an old war hero shuffles into your shop and is 5p short of the price of a four-pack of Guinness, we're pretty sure he'd be allowed to take home his beer with the compliments of the manager.

But when some bloke stumbles into the premises insisting he's entitled to two free lagers because he's recently helped police to solve an arson case, it's a different matter.

That's exactly what happened in Preston last year and the recent court case against 34-year-old Andrew Gardner has resulted in a three-month jail sentence.

Prosecutor Duncan Birrell said ­Gardner was under the impression that he was owed gratis drinks from the local off-licence in Kent Street, Deepdale.

"He believed he was entitled to free beer because he had provided information to police regarding a case of arson committed against the shopkeeper." He picked up a corkscrew and made "grandiose threats" towards the owner.

Recorder Heather Lloyd said Gardner needed to get his life back on track when released from prison. Perhaps she's now entitled to a 10 per cent discount in the Deepdale store?

Watch the birdie

Don't ever let it be said that we don't condone moderate drinking. Some of our best friends are moderate drinkers. But we're a little confused by the imagery selected by Scottish & Newcastle for its "care and control" badge (right) it suggests retailers put on their beer displays. If you ask us, a headless pigeon hurtling out of the sky is not the epitome of either care or control.

Booze blues in Stade de France

We Brits often gaze longingly across the Channel towards what we usually assume is a better world, where alcohol is regarded as a normal element of polite, civilised society and not an excuse to kick wing mirrors off cars and vomit on sleeping cats. Yet the French take a tougher line on drinks at sporting events than we do, banning Heineken signage from Rugby World Cup venues even though it's a main sponsor, and

outlawing the sale of booze at the magnificent Stade de France and other grounds.

Nobody got around to explaining this to certain English rugby fans, who have queued enthusiastically throughout the tournament for what has turned out to be alcohol-free lager. Word reaches us that outraged rugger buggers are considering suing the authorities for failing to get them pie-eyed during matches.

Age-old problem

Retailers know the lengths kids will go to in order to appear older : fake ID, deep voices, casual mentions of the Heath government ...

So why

do drinks companies think teenagers won't have the nous to access their websites? Increasingly, you can't get on to a site without entering your date of birth. It's

easiest to key in Jan 1 1900. Which rather begs the question: is it more irresponsible to market hard liquor to a frail 107-year-old, or a teenager who's old enough to serve in the army?

Kids' stuff

Portman alert! Constellation's new "luxurious chocolate cream" liqueur (which invites us to "drift into its swirled luxury") is bound to appeal to pre-school children. Its name is almost identical to one of the best-loved programmes on CBeebies. Altogether : "What's the story in Choc Amoré, wouldn't you like to know ..."

He's your man

Strange which pop celebrities crop up when you're translating the German beer purity laws of 1516. When we asked Google for an English version of the Reinheitsgebot, it included an intriguing passage about pricing. The original proclamation discussed selling "beer for no more than a penny Munich currency, and Georgi Michaeli to the measure of not more than two a penny the same currency". We'd want change for that.

Thierry's charm offensive

Thierry Cabanne's former business partner John Hayston brought a light-hearted touch to the memorial service at Romsey Abbey. Cabanne was usually running late and rushing, Hayston said. He once got stuck in a lengthy traffic tailback in Paris and was late to catch a flight. He decided to take a short cut up the hard shoulder, and the police were not far behind.

While most people would at that stage admit their error, Cabanne used his considerable charm to persuade them he was a VIP, and got a police escort all the way to the airport. At another time, Cabanne was on a wine buying trip with a colleague who had carefully planned an itinerary with arrival and departure times. It failed to work. "After two days, they were one-and-a-half days behind schedule," Hayston sighed.

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When Bordeaux was in fashion, it seemed almost logical that we should fetishise winemakers. Here were people responsible for brilliant acts of blending, across large estates and multiple grape varieties, including superstars such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. These days, fashion has moved on and pinot noir is ascendant. As a result, the star of the winemaker has fallen and we find ourselves following a new star in the sky: terroir.

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