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 comes out of it 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
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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).
- 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.
- 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 — Animation
- 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?"
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.
- 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."
- 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 implying that the brewer is Bretonnian is an excellent way to start a fight in pretty much any tavern or alehouse 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.
- 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 Tabletop Game/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.
- 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.
- 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, and it got them drunk.
- 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 it turned into 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"), also comes in light and high-alcohol ice
- 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; 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)
- Narragansett (East Coast; only applies where said college students are punks or metalheads)
- 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.
- 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. 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 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, DC 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.
- 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.
- 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:
1. A brewer decides to do something about all the horse piss around
2. Creates and sells a good beer
3. Makes a crapload of money
4. Realizes that there's even more to make if only the beer was cheaper
5. Creates a cheaper beer
6. Joins the throngs of horse-piss makers
- 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.