"Excuse me, I think ye gave me the wrong mug. I ordered a beer, an' this seems ta be a tankard o' moose urine."There are generally two kinds of bars in fictionland: those where they serve beer that is the nectar of the gods, and those where the product going into the user's mouth tastes about the same as the stuff that gets peed out later that night. This trope is the latter. Often the mark of a Bad-Guy Bar. Do not expect this to keep the patrons from swilling the stuff anyway, or from handing you your hindquarters if you ever discuss this trope in the bar. Unfortunately, Truth in Television. Not to be confused with drinking actual urine, moose or otherwise. Compare and contrast Gargle Blaster, where a drink is rendered undrinkable by the alcohol content rather than taste. Terrible alcoholic drinks go in this trope. Bad coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks are covered in Bad to the Last Drop.
— Durkon Thundershield, The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs
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Anime & Manga
- Black Lagoon has this in the first episode with Revy calling Rock's beer piss (which leads to a Bacardi drinking contest). There's never any indication that the beer is bad, though. It's just that Revy thinks serious drinking requires hard liquor.
- A variation of this occurs in the English dub of Princess Mononoke when Jigo asks if what he's drinking is soup or donkey piss.
- In the Japanese version, he complains that it tastes like it's just hot water, which is arguably an even worse insult— donkey piss would at least have some flavor.
- In the first bar scene from AKIRA, the bartender yells at Yamagata, who has come to pick up his friend and leader Kaneda, to buy something for once, since "this ain't a hangout for damned street-gangs!" Yamagata's response: "Yeah, right! And drink your dog piss?"
- The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs'' provides the page quote and the name. Note that he got the best beer you can find in human lands, but when compared to Dwarven ale.... Though the "best beer" comment is probably just standard advertiser hyperbole.
- This gem from Jonah Hex #53 (original series) — and at no point during this monologue does Jonah stop drinking:
Jonah: Ugghh! Thet rotgut shore do taste nasty! Smells nasty! Tastes nasty! Got an aroma just like kerosene! A man'd have tuh be near halfway crazy tuh drink this stuff!
- In the ElfQuest: Future Quest stories, the humans have a beverage called Jakala which is implied to be alcoholic (an officer drinking it while on duty is warned by his Lieutenant that she'll have to report it), but which in contrast to real life alcoholic drinks is best when fresh and becomes worse with age. On one occasion, a character thinks his complaint, "Euuuckkk!! Jakala Breath... Old Jakala Breath..." and on another, a guard complains to a companion, "Yea... the Jakala was ancient, too."
- From Li'l Abner comes "Kickapoo Joy Juice", a liquor of such stupefying potency that the hardiest citizens of Dogpatch, after the first burning sip, rose into the air, stiff as frozen codfish. If it needed more body, they'd throw one in... usually the body of a moose, bear or polecat. The fumes alone had been known to melt the rivets off battleships.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Papa's Big Crush", Duncan McSmurf makes a comment about human ale tasting like it came from the other end of a horse.
Films — Live-Action
- As part of the Training Montage in Beerfest, the protagonists decide to try desensitizing their taste buds with actual animal urine.
Fink: Because of the pH balance?
Gam Gam: No, because if you can drink ram's piss, hell, you can drink just about anything.
- In the movie Desperado, the small corner bar in a little Mexican town has notoriously bad beer, likened to piss. Chances are the bartender and his associates have deliberately made the beer as bad as possible, to keep casual customers away — the bar is actually a front for illegal operations.
Girl: And your beer tastes like piss.
Bartender: Yeah, we know!
Tavo: 'Cause we piss in it!
Bartender: And that's not all...
- During his dinner with Miss Piggy in The Muppet Movie, Kermit orders a bottle of "sparkling Muscatel, one of the finest wines of Idaho" with their dinner. Judging from the reactions of the smarmy waiter, it's not a quality beverage, but Piggy and Kermit don't seem to mind.
- James Bond:
- You Only Live Twice. Bond kills a Mook and decides to raid Osato's drinks cabinet. Horrified at the taste of what he's poured himself, he exclaims "Siamese Vodka!" before departing.
- The Man with the Golden Gun has another dig at Thai alcohol when Bond is offered a wine with the Unfortunate Name of "Phu Yuck". Bond snarkily notes that he approves.
- This is the case with some of the beers found in the taverns of the world of Lone Wolf.
- In The Jungle of Horrors, if you take the river barge path, Paido spitting out "Ferina Nog" and calling it "bilge juice" almost starts a bar brawl. Of course, it's still much safer than drinking Bor Brew ale.
- In the first book of the New Order series, some ale is described as having "a peculiar smell that makes you think of greasy animal hides."
- There's the famous joke about bad beer everywhere: "You don't buy this beer, you rent it." (Because it looks like urine, tastes like urine, and quickly comes out as urine...)
- An old Canadian joke specifically targeting American mass-market pale lager:
Q: How is American beer like making love in a canoe?A: It's fucking close to water!
- There's the joke about beer company owners having a get-together, each ordering their own beer, and the last one, who considers them all horse piss, orders a fresh, stating "since no one's having beer..."
- In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston drinks something called "victory gin", cheap, low-quality drink supplied by the government which is the standard alcoholic beverage for white collar workers; both the taste and the smell of it clearly disagrees with him. (Ironically, when he's offered wine later, which the upper class drink, he's disappointed, finding it weak and mild.)
- A common issue in bars on the Discworld.
Igor: I'll thtick with the horthe pith if it'th all the thame to you... Look, I never thaid I didn't like it. Thame again?"
- Monstrous Regiment has Igor describe the beer in one pub as "horse piss" (and Igor would know, having really drunk it before). When the barman threatens them Maladict intimidates him into providing the soldiers with a better quality beer (including the line "I do not drink... horse piss." ) Igor's response:
- The landlord of the Fiddler's Riddle in Equal Rites "sold only beer, which his customers claimed he got out of cats."
- Likewise the customers of the Mended Drum are of the opinion you don't buy the beer there, you rent it for a couple of hours.
- In The Last Continent, Rincewind noticed that XXXX-ian beer looked "like it had already been drunk." This is only because he's used to Ankh-Morpork beer, which is more accurately described as ale and even more accurately described as alcoholic gravy; the last half inch can be eaten with a spoon.
- In Soul Music, Ridcully comments how they all know what goes in good beer in Ankh-Morpork. The rest of the wizards agree and order gin-tonics.
- In Men at Arms, Nobby notes that despite the label boasting "150% proof", CMOT Dibbler's Soggy Mountain Dew "ain't got no proof, just circumstantial evidence."
- Possibly in The Light Fantastic. When Rincewind, Twoflower and Cohen dine with nomads, all food is made out of horses. Rincewind decides not to ask where did the beer come fromnote , probably remembering the earlier scene in The Colour of Magic when he was sorry he asked about wine made out of "sea grapes"* .
- The Serpent Mage features this in a Bad-Guy Bar.
- Honor Harrington, stuck on the prison planet of Hell after a mass jail break, expressed the opinion that all Havenite beer they had found could be poured back into the horse it came out of and leave the universe a better place.
- Apparently the beer served in slum taverns in the city of Haven in the Heralds of Valdemar novels fits this description — at least according to Alberich, who becomes a master at not really drinking the stuff when he's undercover. Skif, a child of the slums, doesn't seem to have a problem with it (though he agrees with Alberich that the wine served in those taverns is "goat piss").
- The Wheel of Time. Mat Cauthon has a tendency to end up in places that serve this kind of beverage. Such things happen when your primary objective is to find someone willing to gamble for hours on end.
- In Diana Wynne Jones's Castle in the Air, Abdullah tries some beer when he first arrives in Ingary and describes it as resembling camel urine.
- Taken to its logical conclusion in The Book With No Name, where the liquor Sanchez serves occasionally is urine.
- In the prologue to Fillets of Plaice, Gerald Durrell comments to his brother Lawrence that the last retsina he'd picked up had tasted like a urine sample from a mule, and probably was.
- In ''Bimbos of the Death Sun", a Scottish folksinger theorizes that if you sent American beer to a laboratory, they would call back and tell you, "I'm sorry, but your horse has diabetes."
- In Circle of Magic: Briar's Book, Rosethorn falls ill with the magical plague and is bedridden and made to drink large amounts of willow tea to stop the fever. When she grows sick of the willow tea, she compares it to horse urine... and Lark objects from unexplained personal experience with the latter.
- One of the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon books has someone who comes from a mirror universe trade for a jug of King Kong, a legendarily bad hooch that Callahan says he keeps to unclog the toilets. What he trades is a jug of the same from his universe; as Mirror Chemistry makes it taste like Wonderbooze to the other side. "That's the Four-Eye Monongahela, for sure."
- In the James Bond novels, M has a fondness for an extremely rough Algerian red wine nicknamed "the Infuriator". His club keeps bottles of it in their cellar for him, but refuses to include it on the wine list.
- One Nation Under Jupiter: Diagoras can't stand beer of any kind, due to it being generally disliked in Roman culture. Servius enjoys it, though.
- In Auction Kings, Jon's first attempt at brewing beer, having not read the instructions. Cindy helps him to try again and their efforts are much more fruitful.
- Star Trek
Data: It is.... it is... it is green.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics" found Scotty nearly gagging on the ship's "synthehol". He's more pleased with the true alcoholic Aldebaran whiskey Data brings him.
- Which is an epic-level call-back to a Star Trek: The Original Series episode; Scotty was involved in a drinking competition with an alien whose group was studying the (mostly) human crew, one emotion/experience per participant. After going through every bottle of booze in his quarters (and likely the mess hall too), Scotty finds something he honestly can't identify and describes it exactly the same way Data later would.
- In a The Two Ronnies sketch in which Ronnie Barker plays the President of the Institute of Scottish Tourism ("In other words, I'm PIST"), he warns tourists that identifying yourself as English in Scottish bars will usually result in being served with a disgusting concoction made from distilled ptarmigan (Which begins with a p, and so would you if you were being distilled), which is unfortunately identical to the Scottish malt whiskey he has in this glass here... (drinks, spits=) ...which is even more revolting.
- While he possibly in a poor mood, Inspector Morse surprised his partner by going teetotaler in Australia, which he later explained as, "They don't spell Australian beer with four 'X'es out of ignorance, you know."
- In the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", Wash spits out a mouthful of the local drink, Mudder's Milk, while asking what the hell he just drank in Chinese. Shortly thereafter, the barkeep refers to it as "panda urine" when Jayne, rattled at the hero worship he's receiving, asks for another drink.
- On one episode of Good News Week, Paul describes Fosters as tasting like "watered-down horse piss". Leads to a Tastes Like Feet moment.
- Inverted in the Red Dwarf episode "Legion" when Kryten says they've recycled the Starbug's water so much that it's starting to taste like Dutch lager.
- Played straight in "Out Of Time" where Kryten has been making wine with urine recyc. Lister notes that it leaves a foam moustache that's impossible to remove without turpentine. Kryten later serves the crew's future selves the ship's last bottle of real wine and they spit it out, being used to the very best.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As part of their training, Buffy takes the (underage) Potentials to Willy's, the local Bad-Guy Bar for demons. The girls immediately beeline for the bar, but change their minds when Buffy invites them to "Down all the yak urine shots or pig's blood spritzers you like."
- M*A*S*H, where Hawkeye and co. ran a still in their tent. A guest who sampled some of the product described it as "pure poison". It's a Running Joke that the still's product is nearly undrinkable to anybody who doesn't live in the Swamp.
- BJ described it as a martini made with lighter fluid (lighter fluid from the '50s).
- In "The Best" episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! their prop artist whipped up an apparent gourmet meal using bargain bin ingredients. Among the various items served was a bottle of wine noted to have cost them $1.99.
- In an episode of NCIS, a British guest character drops by Gibbs' house for a beer, but claims it tastes like horse excrement. (He wasn't too fond of the tea, either.)
- Hilariously parodied by Russian Sketch Com 6 Kadrov. A guy in bar complains about his beer, calling it "donkey's piss". The bartender offers another cup. Guy takes a sip and immediately spits it out.
Guy: What's this?Bartender: This is donkey's piss. That [other cup] was beer.
- Bretonnian ale brewing in Warhammer and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is so bad that "Bretonnian beer" is the in-universe byword for "undrinkable swill". The guide to Bretonnia in WFRP states that asking an inkeeper or tavern owner if his brewer is Bretonnian is a quick, cheap and foolproof way of starting a Bar Brawl pretty much anywhere in the Old World.
- Forgotten Realms always paid attention to details, and since Ed Greenwood's original players included brewers, there's a lot of named drinks, including dubious ones. Such as utterdark, a wine which a few people really like and the rest call "black Bogbrook water". Speaking of Bad-Guy Bar, Luskan pirates drink local "Fighting Cock" wine — "vile but laced with spirits to make it raw and strong" (and flammable). Calling something inferior "Elminster's Choice" probably wasn't a good idea, though.
Elminster: I've forgiven the impudent wretch who was so bold as to borrow my good name for his second-rate ale. Eighty years as a stone toadstool is enough, I think.
- Necromunda has what is called "Second Best," brewed from mouldy rat pelts, rancid slugs, and household wastes too disgusting to think about, fortunately you don't do much thinking after drinking it.
- Gangers who can afford it drink "Wildsnake", which is made from fermented snakes.
- Eclipse Phase has the Scum swarm Phelan's Recourse, known for making both the best whiskey and the worst beer in the known universe. Seriously, even the locals prefer to use "Phelan's Da" as drain cleaner.
- Waxberry wine, from the Frandor's Keep supplement of Hackmaster, is so bad that the in-character travelogue of a wandering NPC sage outright says to avoid it at all costs. It apparently even causes lasting neurological harm on occasions.
- Deus Ex: A conversation with an NPC in a Paris Bar has JC asking a patron about the drinks, which he responds, "Great, if you like rat piss." Which has JC responding, "Never tried it."
- World of Warcraft
- A seasonal event involves telling the ill-tempered Dark Iron brewmaster Coren Direbrew that his product "isn't fit for pigs". This turns out to be base slander, but you're really just trying to pick a fight.
- One drink is called "Fungus Squeezings", and most players adamantly refuse to drink it, except for that one dose of it required for an achievement.
- Warcraft III: In "The Frozen Throne" orc campaign, after a sidequest to help a pandaren brewmaster gather ingredients for his masterpiece, said beverage comes out as this. Which is to be expected from unfermented beer. (Said brewmaster, Chen Stormstout, has much improved his craft by his appearance in World of Warcraft.)
- EverQuest II has a newbie quest where you're asked to go collect samples from the nearby rust monsters in Freeport in order for a local bartender to experiment with a new beer. The unfortunate sap who tested the beer ended up going blind.
- Quest for Glory: The ale in the tavern in Spielburg in the first game. There's also the more expensive Troll's Sweat, which tastes like Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Of course, the other option is the Dragon's Breath, so...
- Another one from Sierra, in Space Quest: what passes for a bar in Ulence Flats, Kerona.
- Leisure Suit Larry does this as well, though some drunkards don't seem to mind the taste.
- An early quest in Kingdom of Loathing has a few mugs of "Typical Tavern swill" as a reward. You can add fruity girl accessories to improve the stats, but it doesn't do anything for the taste. When Ed the Undying gets this quest, he remembers that he invented beer, and describes the first one as "mouse pee squeezed out of some damp grain", and learns that the recipie the Typical Tavern uses actual rats, although how is not specified.
- Puzzle Pirates: You can distill your own rum in a minigame, and your end result is this trope if you do poorly (though the only real effect is on your score and your rank).
- Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening's Dragon Piss gift for Oghren: "The name is probably figurative, but no one knows for sure." Of course, one can only wonder where Oghren's own home-brewed ale comes from, as hinted by him and Zevran in party banter in Origins. Otherwise averted, as human beer is generally seen to taste much better than Dwarven, which being made from ingredients one can readily find underground, tastes about as good as that implies.
- Grog in the Monkey Island universe, overlapping with Gargle Blaster. Non-alcoholic near-grog is said to taste just as bad as the real thing.
- The objectives in the officially-recognized Unreal Tournament 2004 map AS-Outback revolve around a brewery forcing bars all across Australia to serve nothing but non-alcoholic "Zero Beer", which is compared to "dingo's piss" in the level's intro.
- Freelancer has Liberty Ale. Rumor has it the stuff is made from H-fuel byproducts. More likely the byproducts from production of Synth Paste.
- Drinking plain old "Ale" in The Sims Medieval results in the "Stale Ale" debuff. It's not negative, but the Sim clearly is not pleased by the ale. (The "Wine" is similar. There are two kinds of wine, red and white. This is neither.)
- In the opening cinematic to Beneath a Steel Sky, the natives are holding a can of S.S. IPM Raw beer. Note that the name is "warm piss" backwards.
- All of the taverns and inns you encounter in your travels throughout The Lord of the Rings Online have their own local tipples available for purchase. The Forsaken Inn in the Lone-lands is the home of Forsaken Ale.
"There are many fabled brews in Middle-earth. This is not one of them."
- In Fallout 2, the bar in Klamath serves "gecko piss." The Chosen One is quite alarmed at this until being informed that it's simply a local joke.
- In Telltale's Game of Thrones, Beskha comments on the Ghiscari ale she and Asher found in an abandoned tavern quite unflatteringly. "Ale! Goes in yellow and comes out yellow. Waste of time even drinking it".
- Background NPC chatter in Final Fantasy XIV; a rude customer asks for a glass of the Gold Saucer's "finest wine". The waitress asks the bartender for "our vilest piss". She claims to the customer that it's a "Fifth Astral Era vintage"; given that the game takes place in the Seventh Umbral Era over 1,500 years later, wine that old is likely to be piss now even if it really was a good vintage at some point. The customer, apparently, is ignorant of this, lamenting that it's only a Fifth.
- In RuneScape there is a beverage called Moonlight Mead, which actually isn't mead because it is made from mushrooms and not honey. When you drink it, the game tells you "It tastes like something just died in your mouth". The only bar that serves this drink is in a town where almost everyone is a werewolf, possibly because werewolves like the taste of something dying in their mouths.
- In the bartending sim VA-11 HALL-A, "Promo" drinks were generally designed to advertise or memorialize something without any eye to the actual flavor of the drink involved.
- In Dominic Deegan Stonewater thinks of human beer this way. Halflings also think Dwarf beer tastes like "piss water" (Dwarves find Halfling beer "snobby").
- The Gods of Arr-Kelaan: Bikk tried to jumpstart a religion for Ronson (God of Alcohol) by impersonating him and giving two soldiers mugs of ale that would always be full when turned upright. But since Bikk doesn't know squat about brewing, the ale was very poor quality. One of the soldiers was able to start a bar using his mug, since "if it's cheap enough, people will drink anything." Said beer does prevent aging, though. The other soldier started a temple based around his mug, though he had to forbid his followers from drinking any of the "holy ale" to make it believable.
- In one arc of PvP, several characters decide to take up brewing, and make an incredibly horrible-tasting beer, which they market as coffee flavored. Robbie proves to be such an appalling brewmaster that his first attempt produces something with the flavor of a quite excellent lager, but the consistency of soft-serve. They test-market it as "lagurt" in a tube (ala Go-Gurt) for hip young frat boys on the go, and it tests quite well, but Robbie is so bent on making high-class brews instead of profitable trendy fad hooch that he throws a tantrum and gives up on the whole thing.
- Kenny of The Kenny Chronicles is of the opinion that all beer tastes worse than piss (and he would know).
- In The Rifters the stuff that Rod spits out here, is, as the bartender so cheerfully explains, sand beer.
- The second strip of Van Von Hunter has a technomage conjuring a mini-fridge of beer "from the FUTURE!"
Van Von Hunter: It tastes like piss...Technomage: Yeah, unfortunately all beer from the future is like that.
- In one Nodwick story, Yeagar is at the bar flat broke and ordering the only thing he can afford: squeezed bar rag. He compares the taste to licking a troll's armpit.
- Family Guy
Though the beer may be free / you're just renting it from me.
- Peter Griffin once said that the beer of a British pub tasted like "tobacco chewer's spit".
- In the Peter and the Pawtucket Brewery episode ("Wasted Talent"), the song "Pure Inebriation" includes the line often used to allude that the beer tastes like piss (or maybe just that it ends up that way):
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", where a pair of conman brothers challenge the Apple family to a cider-making contest. Eventually, the brothers have to turn off the quality control on their cider-making machine to win, resulting in a horrific-looking liquid with dirty apple chunks, bits of torn-up apple tree, and even dirt and rocks floating in it, which everypony in town refuses to drink.
- Some viewers have noticed that in addition to the explicitly noted dirt and plant material, the machine was shown sucking up entire trees and pressing them into cider-which also would have included any type of critter that happened to be living in the tree at the time. Such as birdies, squirrels, lazy Pegasi...
- The Simpsons has a few examples. Duff is essentially a parody of Budweiser, Coors and Miller. Fudd was, apparently, taken off the market in a lot of places, barring Shelbyville and one faraway bar Homer visits after he has a fight with Marge, after a load of hillbillies went blind. Red Tick Beer has a unique flavour Homer can't quite put his finger on. Turns out, the company just lets dogs swim around in the brewing vat, one brewer even proclaiming, "needs more dog."
- Episode #396 "#1 Party School" of This American Life, focusing on #1 Party School Penn State found that the beer of choice for on-campus residents (Natural Light) was hated by nearly everyone who drank it. Ira was naturally puzzled why they would drink it if they hated it so much. Answer? It was cheap, it got them drunk, and that's all that matters.
- Which explains the success of Rolling Rock which, for $1.50 a bottle at happy hours, was a good beer. After the price hike to $3.50 a bottle everybody started calling it horse piss.
- For the record, the (mostly) complete list of Cheap Beers American College Students Drink 'Cos They're Cheap:
- Natural Light and Natural Ice ("Natty" for short)
- Busch (a.k.a. "Reject Batches of Budweiser")
- Busch Light (a.k.a. "Reject Batches of Bud Light")
- Pabst Blue Ribbon ("PBR", traditionally the province of working-class Midwesterners, now consumed "ironically" by hipsters and frequently beloved by metalheads; oddly, sold like an ultra-premium in China)
- Miller High Life (often mocked for its rather ironic advertising slogan, "the champagne of beers"; like PBR and 'Gansett, it has become quite the darling of hipsters and metal fans)
- Milwaukee's Best (the legendary "beast", a.k.a. "Milwaukee's Worst")
- Milwaukee's Best Light (a.k.a. "Reject Batches of Miller Light")
- Milwaukee's Best Ice (high-alcohol, a.k.a. "I intend to be too drunk to remember how bad this tastes")
- Keystone Light and Keystone Ice (a.k.a. "Reject Batches of Coors Light").
- Blatz (Midwest only; a.k.a. "Slightly Better Batches of PBR")
- Old Milwaukee (Midwest and some of the South,note a.k.a. "Reject batches of PBR"—believe it or not)
- National Bohemian (Mid-Atlantic only, particularly MD, a.k.a. Natty Boh')
- Molson (Any state that borders Canada. It's now being exported internationally; known as the "Canadian Budweiser" for its similarly ubiquitous nature, low cost, and abysmal quality.)
- Labatt (pretty much the same as Molson except for maybe being slightly less shitty, but that's not saying much)
- Corona (Mexico's answer to Bud, Coors, and all the other American piss purveyors, and every bit as disgusting. Some say the reason it's traditionally served with a slice of lime is to balance out the taste of rat's piss.)
- Narragansett (East Coast, only applies where said college students are punks or metalheads due to the fact that it tends to be the cheapest beer available at music venues; due to a run of well-regarded limited offerings, it is starting to shake this reputation, but 'Gansett Lager is still viewed as something that you chug at shows for $2 a can and avoid like the plague otherwise)
- Lone Star (the National Beer of Texas, also popular among punks and metalheads for being relatively cheap, however Lone Star is also liked by "good 'ol' boys" and some hipsters, albeit less so than PBR or Miller High Life. King of the Hill features an Expy in the form of Alamo Beer.)
- Also, any kind of high-gravity lager or "malt liquor." If you see a student drinking 40s of malt liquor (super-strength super-crappy beer, sold cheap and usually associated with the 'hood), you know that he/she is on a "ramen-noodle-every-night budget." Famous varieties include Olde English 800, Steel Reserve (frequently referred to as "211"), Colt 45, Mickey's, St. Ides, Hurricane, King Cobra, and Big Bear.
- There are also "malt beverages," which are corporate attempts to make something very much like a weak vodka-based mixed drink without actually making a vodka-based mixed drink to get around tax laws: if it contains actual vodka, it can only be sold in places with licenses to sell liquor in certain jurisdictions, while the "malt beverage", made by making "beer" intentionally designed to be as strong and as tasteless as possible and then adding flavoring, may be sold in more places. The result of this workaround is a product universally considered to taste terrible. Smirnoff Ice in particular has such a terrible reputation that it's the subject of a Drinking Game called "icing", the goal of which is to force a person to chug an entire 12-ounce bottle of Smirnoff Ice.
- Beer lovers sometimes call the piss-beer genre a "eurolager", referring to the popularity of cheap and very lightly, if at all, hopped lager as a "default" beer, often made with the addition of cheaper sugar sources (like corn syrup) then a proper malt, and how this is considered to start from continental Europe. Given that lager yeasts tend to produce a very narrow range of flavors compared to ale yeasts, ways to do them "well" mean using high concentration of good malt and/or gracious hopping - both, obviously, expensive compared to corn syrup. Hence we get the shit that most beers mentioned above and below tastes like: some malt, some corn syrup, "high-density brewing" (aka diluting the beer you do actually brew with water to expand capacity and save on manufacturing costs), rat's piss, possibly with notes of Wonder Bread (for tropers outside of the US, Canada, and Mexico, this is a super-cheap, super-crappy brand of white bread, and cheap lagers honestly do taste like it).
- For British tropers, Carling or Fosters — these are the two staple lagers of pubs nationwide. Fortunately, you tend to find both. If not, there'll be Carlsberg to offer some reprieve. Regardless, depends on the quality of the pub.
- European beers such as Stella Artois, Amstel Light, Heineken and Becks also have this reputation in the UK. Stella in particular is the most popular beer in the South East, especially amongst working class people.
- In Scotland, Tennant's has this dubious honour instead.
- Note to any Australians reading this: The Fosters drunk there is brewed under license and apparently tastes much, much worse than the Australian one. And this ignoring that no one in Australia has drunk Fosters since the early 90s. It's still better than the British equivalent of Castlemaine, which used to be brewed next to the site of an old coal-gas plant so badly contaminated by toxic waste that it took decades to clean up... at which point they moved production elsewhere, presumably because the beer just wasn't the same any more.
- Most Japanese and South Korean beers have this reputation thanks to limited or virtually nonexistent craft industries in both countries due to onerous regulations (Korea) and tax laws (Japan) that have kept smaller brewers from operating; while these have since been relaxed, it's still slow going. International options aren't any better, as the prices are outrageous and the selection is mostly limited to piss brews from other countries. This has led to a stranglehold on the market by a few large breweries, all of which produce brews that are every bit as bad as most American macrobrews. Japan has Sapporo, Kirin, Asahi, and Suntory (there's also Orion, which, while certainly of better quality than the other four, still isn't very good), while Korea only has Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery, both of whom produce beer so shitty that Taedonggang (North Korea's state beer) is actually considered to be better by a large margin. Japan's craft industry is at least gaining steam and might eventually begin to make a greater impact (a few Japanese craft breweries have come to international attention, particularly Kiuchi Brewery's Hitachino Nest unitnote ), but South Korea's is only a few years old (the regulations that kept small brewers from distributing outside of their own property were lifted in 2011) and thus still in its infancy, meaning that there's still virtually nothing to dispel the notion that all Korean beer is swill.
- There's also the stereotype among Europeans, especially Germans, that American beer is basically just piss-colored water pretending to be beer. Many Americans hold this opinion of many of the more popular American beers themselves, preferring more distinctive local microbreweries or home brews. Contrary to popular belief, US mass-market lagers, with the exception of those explicitly marketed as light beers (which (1) becomes "light" by losing alcohol and (2) although invented in the US to capitalize on the '70s diet craze is now a more-or-less global phenomenon), are not less alcoholic than other lagers (alcohol content is measured differently in the US) though YMMV on the taste.
- Americans for their part have similar reaction to the idea of beer not being chilled. Probably because just about every mass-market American beer is a lager. Lagers are always served cold, the world over (if there is any infrastructure to allow it). Ales, Porters, and Stouts; there there is some debate (you definitely don't chill them as much as lagers though).
- When President Obama met Prime Minister David Cameron for a casual beer (in front of eighty million cameras) each brought a favourite beer from their own home country. Despite Cameron's protests that the flavour of the (very cultured) Hobgoblin Beer from the Wychwood Brewery in his constituency of Oxfordshire that he brought for Obama to try would be ruined by chilling it to ice cold, Obama absolutely insisted on putting it in the fridge. You would think Obama would trust him, or at least, the guidelines on the bottle, enough to try a beer as intended. Apparently not. See a picture of the event here.◊note Incidentally, Hobgoblin is well known in England for its humorously scathing criticism◊ of people who drink cheap tasteless lager, something Cameron would have been very aware of.
- Sometimes its a storage thing. Beers are sometimes served at "room temperature" outside of America, but because of the way they're stored (sometimes in specially designed cool rooms, even), a British "room temperature" beer is a good ten degrees cooler than an American one, meaning that, confusion over wording aside, a room temperature beer there isn't the warm, nasty, skunked-out swig of sadness it is here in the US.
- A British top-fermented beer is supposed to be served at cellar temperature, which for a proper cellar keeping the beer at its best will be too cool for the drinker to be comfortable in the bar. The beer shouldn't be at ambient temperature and should feel cool, but certainly not ice-cold.
- The US has large swathes of territory where it regularly gets well into the triple digits Fahrenheit (over 40*C), often with swelteringly high humidity alongside it—and Washington, D.C. is in one of those areas (having been built in the middle of a Southern Tidewater swamp; it can get absurdly hot as late as October).note In that sort of environment, enjoying beer for its flavor often takes a backseat to the desperate need for something cold and refreshing.
- A reference to British warm beer is an automatic laugh-line in the US, where British "cuisine" is thought to be inedible: blood pudding, kippers (smoked and fried herrings) and so on.
- Finnish beer "Lapin kulta" (Lappland's gold) has many names, but is mainly known as "poron kusi" (reindeer piss). Americans tend to like it. People who drink beer for flavour tend to hate it. At least it does have ethanol.
- The Finnish language term for any such beer is liukuhihnalager ("conveyor belt lager"), implying it is mass-produced on conveyor belt from as cheap ingredients as possible. Intended to be drunk chilled so that the possible taste of beer would not be evident.
- There's a local brand of "Bear Whiz Beer" in upstate Minnesota, the logo for which is a Funny Animal bear peeing in a lake. Based on a sketch by The Firesign Theatre, of course.
- Similarly, there's a brew out of Montana called Moose Drool.
- Ever tasted (cheap) Russian beer? No? Keep it like that. For the record, beers like Zatecky Gus are so awful that people have been known to try them again because they could not believe how awful they were the first time.
1. A brewer decides to do something about all the horse piss around2. Creates and sells a good beer3. Makes a crapload of money4. Realizes that there's even more to make if only the beer was cheaper5. Creates a cheaper beer6. Joins the throngs of horse-piss makers7. ???????8. PROFIT!!!
- Same with the beer in the Baltic states, which manages to be even worse by a wide margin. (NOTE: These rules generally apply only to the standard pale lagers in Russia and the Baltic. They do not usually apply to "Baltic porter", a darker beer that—despite being a lager and thus technically not a porter—does some justice to the English style that inspired it. They absolutely do not apply to "Russian Imperial Stout," a style of ale historically brewed in England for export to the Imperial Russian Army starting in the days of Catherine the Great and today a favorite for American microbreweries looking for a high-gravity dark beer.)
- Premium Russian beers, on the other hand, are quite good, but they inevitably follow the came vicious circle:
- To many people who don't like beer, all beer smells vaguely urine-ish. Either that or like paint thinner. This is because alcohol in low concentrations smells (and tastes) a fair amount like urea. The color certainly doesn't lend it any favors.
- Then, of course, there's the fact that ingesting alcohol in any quantity accelerates kidney function, meaning you'll have to take a whiz after downing a few brews. Cue the "in-one-end-and-out-the-other" and "you-don't-buy-it-you-rent-it" jokes...
- In Ireland, Dutch Gold (often nicknamed "Dutch Mould") is well known as cheap, watered down piss. It's incredibly popular, particularly in Dublin's Fair City, mostly due to its low cost.
- During the American prohibition era, many bars were forced to buy home-brewed beer of dubious quality. While plenty of speakeasies got good home-brews, a lot of crummier places had to sell cheap, poorly-made and terrible-tasting liquor. Being as these beers had been known to cause blindness, bad taste might be the best you could hope for.
- While not beer, a good amount of ciders in the UK serve the same purpose that cheap beer and malt liquor serves in the US: inexpensive, poor-tasting fare perfect for impoverished college students or alcoholics to get loaded on. This has not been lost on the cider makers; as a matter of fact, Heineken, the parent company of Scottish Courage, the maker of the infamous White Lightning cider, actually pulled the plug on it in 2009 as a way of helping curb the anti-social behavior frequently caused by the excessive consumption of those brews.
- On the same note, both the US and the UK have low-end fortified wine, aka "bum wine" in the US. Infamous for its low price, large bottle size, sky-high ABV, and revolting taste (some varieties are disgustingly sweet, others don't bother putting on a nice face and just rely on the fact that you'll be too drunk to notice how disgusting it is after a couple swigs), it is the drink of choice for homeless (or seriously impoverished) alcoholics and the absolute poorest of college students. Famous varieties in the US include MD 20/20 (contrary to opinion, it does not stand for "Mad Dog", but rather "Mogen David"note ), Cisco (known for its brutal hangovers, also the most popular among college students), Wild Irish Rose (commonly believed to have been the inspiration for the Neil Diamond hit "Cracklin' Rosie"), Night Train Express (immortalized by The Blues Brothers and Guns N' Roses), and Thunderbird (infamous for being disgusting even by bum wine standards and for the catchy jingle that used to accompany radio ads for it), while the UK has Buckfast Tonic Wine (notorious for both its popularity among neds and the many, many attempts that have been made to curb the sale of it). They are less prevalent than they used to be, however, as numerous cities have either outlawed or severely restricted their sale.
- Russians, never to be outdone in the booze department, also had the cheap fortified wines up the wazoo. In Soviet times they churned up tons of various brands, mostly to use up the waste from the fruit canning industrynote , or less than perfect batches of normal grape wines. A lot of sugar and ~20% alcohol content easily masked a half-rotten apples' taste, and it was actually much cheaper than vodka, buzz-for-the-buck wise. Up until The Great Politics Mess-Up they were the favorite of bums and StarvingStudents, until the ensuing meltdown made a bootleg vodka in Russia even cheaper. The industry, though, flourished in Belarus, where the alcohol laws remained virtually unchanged. Nowadays they begin to make inroads in Russia again, what with the authorities that, awash in oil revenue and not needing the alcohol tax to fill the state coffers, started to combat alcohol consumption and mandated the lowest price of a vodka bottle to be a pretty significant 200 r ($6, with the tolerable ones starting at ~$10 figure), while "Ye Olde Porte Whynne" is still unregulated, and still just &2 per bottle...
- Generally speaking, every wine-producing country has a large number of wines produced from cheap grapes specifically designed to be sold at a very low price point. These are generally called (in English) "plonk" (apparently, a corruption of the French "blanc", i.e. "white," as it seems that at some point France put out a large number of cheap whites for export and domestic consumption). Most plonk is better than bum wine, but in many cases it's not by much.
- Speaking of french origin cheap wines, a common term for poor quality inexpensive reds is "Piquette", also known locally as "gros rouge qui tache" (big red that stains).
- Finnish word for "moonshine" (illicit liquor), pontikka, derives itself from the French province of Pontacq. The province is not known of quality wines.
- In the U.S., boxed wines such as Franzia have this reputation as fodder for college students to get drunk on rather than actually enjoyed.
- Some cheap Spanish red wines (vino tinto) can be really icky. A popular method to render them potable is to prepare kalimotxo out of them: a mixture of red wine and cola drink in 1:1 ratio. The phosphoric acid in cola drinks will neutralize any bitter substances to great extent. Kalimotxo is a popular drink on botellons, grand impromptu booze-ups by the Spanish youth. Kalimotxo is also known as Diesel, Cubalitro and Rioja Libre.
- Another use for Spanish tinto is tinto de verano—"summer red", the most popular drink in the Spanish summertime. It consists of a 1:1 ratio of red wine and a lightly lemon-lime-flavored soft drink called gaseosa (a 50/50 mix of 7-Up and club soda approximates a gaseosa, so non-Spaniards can think of it as 2 parts wine, one part 7-Up, and one part soda water). The wine for tinto de verano needs to be slightly better than that for the kalimotxo, since the phosphoric acid isn't there, but not by much.
- Certain Finnish wines and liquors tend to have Black Humor nicknames, such as Gambina -> Kampiviina (Cranky Booze), Bordeaux Blanc -> Porvoon Lankku (Porvoo Plank), Helmeilevä Omenaviini -> Hölmöilevä Omenaliima (Loonie Apple Glue), Pöytäviina -> Pöytäliima (Table Glue), Fernet Branca -> Rotanmyrkky (Rat Poison) etc.
- In general, any beer served in a clear bottle will probably taste at least a bit skunky by the time it's purchased. Brown bottles filter out the high-energy wavelengths of light, preventing the brew from breaking down as quickly. As a result, a terrible bottled lager may taste at least passable on tap. Clear glass is also marginally cheaper, so it's a good indicator of the cost that went into the product.
- If you're ever in eastern Australia, avoid XXXX Gold like the plague. Referred to as "dog's piss" by locals, its reputation is even worse than that of Victoria Bitter, which is also seen as this trope by many.
- Spain is not known for its beer (although good Spanish beers do exist, such as Legado de Yuste (Legacy of Yuste) or El Burro de Sancho (Sancho's Donkey), but if you ever travel to Spain, avoid Cruzcampo and Mahou like the plague. To give you an idea of how awful they are, most bars serve them at almost freezing temperature in order to nullify the taste. Nevertheless, you will feel their awful, bitter aftertaste for a while.
- India pale ale (IPA) is definitely a Love It or Hate It style of beer due to being heavily hopped (resulting in the style being bitter beyond belief), and that's not even getting into the hate some people have for IPA drinkers. However, what both aficionados and detractors can agree on is when one is bad, it's awful. Due to the labor-intensive and difficult process of brewing an IPA to have the right balance of hop and malt flavors, it's very easy to screw up. And because the IPA is such a popular style, there are always breweries looking to cash in on a trend with poorly-made beer slapped with the "microbrew" tag and sold at an obscene markup from what it actually took to produce. Thus, you get beers like Pig Minds Brewing Company's Prunus the Bitter, which has been described as tasting of rotten peaches and dish soap, and Indian Wells' Amnesia, which has an alcohol taste so pungent it successfully masks four different kinds of hops.
- South Africa offers the world a wine called Spatzendreck or "sparrow-shit". The label◊ shows a cheeky sparrow grinning back over its shoulder and presenting a very obvious arsehole to the consumer.