In The Deer Hunter Robert De Niro offers to get Meryl Streep a drink. She asks for a beer and he responds something along the lines of “Have a Rolling Rock. It’s the best there is”.

In the 1990s it was pretty much the only beer I drank. That’s not quite true, for instance I spent a lot of time in Yorkshire drinking real ales, but it does feel that way, certainly where bottled beer was concerned. The fact is I drank a lot of it. Not because it came in a great bottle – there were loads of beers in cool bottles at the time – but because I loved the fresh taste of it. It always hit the spot.

But then I moved to a place away from shops, and without a car lugging boxes of bottles home was not an option. Not an attractive one that is. It was enough to slog home with pots of paint and unwieldy garden supplies on public transport without having to heft even more stuff.

And somewhere during this time Rolling Rock stopped appearing in the shops.

So when, a few weeks back, I turned the isle in the supermarket to see a large stack of Rolling Rock four packs it was very much a blast from the past. One that I could practically taste. Not only that it was very cheap. I bought loads. Well not loads, but plenty.

Unpacking the groceries back home I was still very pleased with myself, until the OH said, “Why did you buy all this?”

“Because it’s great.”

“It’s not very strong.”


“You bought the lite version. Look it says Extra Pale.”

If I wasn’t stunned into silence I’d have pointed out that the logo always says Extra Pale. I still have some merchandise around somewhere that shows that. But sure enough it was just 2.8%. “Extra Pale? Beyond The Bloody Pale.” I thought.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t really care about the alcohol content of beer, just as long as it tastes good. But the fact is that if you start beggaring around with the alcohol levels of an existing product you generally ruin it. Beck Vier being just one example of turning something nice into drek.

“It used to be stronger,” I whimpered as I tried to convince myself that it would still taste fine.

Could my memory be playing tricks on me?

I went to check.

When Rolling Rock came out here in the UK for a short while it had a paper label (such expertise – told you I drank it a lot), before moving to painted bottles and I had one pasted onto an old record box. Sure enough it used to be four and a half percent.

I felt betrayed. No, that’s too extreme. Shall we say I felt let down. Vey let down. Still as Iris DeMent sang, nothing good ever lasts.

Trying to keep an optimistic head on I attempted to look forward to drinking one as soon as it had chilled down.

And the result?

Well, as someone once said when faced with an awful beer – “Put it back in the horse!”