Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

That will be the booze talking

There's no longer any need to wait until the pub closes to start the revolution with a guide to ethical drinking

May 1, 2006
6 min read

Support independent breweries

The Society of Independent Brewers reckons that some 85 per cent of beer in the UK comes from just four companies – Scottish and Newcastle, Interbrew, Carlsberg Tetley and Guinness. Before the first world war, some 6,000 pubs brewed their own beer but material shortages ended this and the practice has never recovered.

A few ‘brewpubs’ exist, such as the Porterhouse in London’s Covent Garden or the Marble Arch in Manchester, home of Marbles Beer – a vegan, organic microbrewery (www.marblebeers.co.uk). The independent brewers, St Peter’s Brewery, have their own pub, the historic Jerusalem Tavern, in Clerkenwell, London, where customers can drink in the ghostly company of various former bar proppers such as Handel, Samuel Johnson and William Hogarth (www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk).

Some microbreweries prefer the trendier term ‘craft’ brewery but the principles are the same – non-chain, independent, innovative, traditional, cask-conditioned real ales. For a list of microbreweries, visit www.quaffale.org.uk.

Vegetarian and vegan

Beer and wine are ‘fined’ (clarified) with isinglass (fish bladders) or even blood and gelatine. Many wine producers now label their wines as vegan or vegetarian and supermarkets such as the Co-op and Waitrose stock a reasonable range, but for more variety check out www.purewine.co.uk. Samuel Smith breweries produced only vegan beers and are registered with the Vegan society (www.merchantduvin. com/pages /5_breweries/samsmith.html).

Champagne Gordon

Gordon Brown has the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) hopping mad over his 2006 budget, freezing duty on champagne while increasing it on beer. Join Camra’s campaign (www.camra.org.uk).

Health benefits of booze

We all know about the ‘French paradox’ and the benefits of moderate red wine drinking; now it seems beer may have the same rejuvenating qualities. Beer contains anti-inflammatory components and other antioxidants such as polyphenols, B vitamins and minerals. Well, how else do you explain students surviving on ‘the beer diet’?

Stick a cork in it

Plastic stoppers and aluminium screw tops may be great for the weak-wristed, but they are not doing much for the environment. Natural wine corks come from the bark of the cork oak, Quercus suber, grown in Portugal, Spain and parts of north Africa. Cork oak forests are rich in wildlife, including endangered animals like the Barbary deer, Spanish Iberian lynx and imperial eagle. Cork farmers sustain the woods but if the trade becomes uneconomic it spells disaster for these woods. Chelsea manager JosÈ Mourinho is fronting the Portuguese Cork Association campaign, having been chosen for his, er ‘sophistication and appeal’.

Boycott wine (again?)

This is what the United Farm Workers Union (UFWU) did last year with Gallo wines, the world’s second biggest wine maker – and it worked. It is not just Gallo who exploit workers rights, however. Vineyard pruners all over the world are paid piece-rates and encouraged to work without concern for their health and welfare. Vines are sprayed with hazardous chemicals and there is little job security. Buy Fairtrade wine from a number of suppliers, including Traidcraft and the wonderful Vintage Roots (www.vintageroots.co.uk), who do a great line in vegan, vegetarian and biodynamic wines at reasonable prices.

Support the cheese eating surrender monkeys

The US boycott of French wine over the Iraq war has cost the country an estimated £64 million in wine revenue, with a 26 per cent slump in weekly sales. Go to www.vinceremos.co.uk for some great organic French wines.

Bruiser not Breezer

One of the biggest political booze battles of all time must be Barcardi v Havana Club (note that Red Pepper is open to donations of Havana Club at any time). Bacardi, in connivance with the US government, have worked some dark arts over the years against Cuba and by extension Havana Club (www.havana-club.com). This has included alleged involvement with paramilitary groups and terrorist attacks, as well as links with the CIA and the Bush administration. For more information check out Bacardi: The Hidden War by Hernando Calvo Ospina (Pluto Press).

Smells like teen spirit

‘There cannot be too much vodka, there can only be not enough vodka.’ So says an old Russian saying from long before vodka became the favourite tipple of teenagers in the west.

Vodka packs a real political punch; the entire history of communism is wrapped up in it. Lenin believed vodka to be a major obstacle for communism. So he banned it. Stalin, on the other hand, was a big advocate encouraging the Russian state vodka industry. Interestingly, his predecessor in terror, Ivan the Terrible, established the first state-run vodka industry in the 16th century. It flourished until Gorbachev, a near teetotaller, tried to ban it to combat alarming rates of alcoholism.

Vladimir Putin brought vodka back under state control, but not before the mafia got a serious grip on distribution. If you’d rather not contribute to Russian Mafia profits try UK5 organic vodka (www.uk5.org).

Political booze

Moreno Wines (11 Marylands Road, London , W9 2DU, Tel 020 7286 0678) help fight the good fight by donating wine for various Red Pepper events and fundraising activities. Thanks Manuel!

The Workers Beer Company has helped thousands of non-profit groups, NGOs, trade unions (and Red Pepper) through its beer tent scheme at festivals and other events. WBC also runs the Bread and Roses free house in London (www.breadandrosespub.com).

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project

Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going

A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism

Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase

Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields

Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton

Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi

A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain

Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank

Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded

West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens

Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age

Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics

Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.

Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making

Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi