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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.
Anime & Manga
- Black Lagoon has this in the first episode with Revy calling Rock's beer piss (which leads to a Bacardi drinking contest).
- 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!
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.
- 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...
- 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."
- A common issue in bars on the Discworld.
- 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:
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?"
- 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 CMOT Dibbler's brandy doesn't have any proof, only circumstantial evidence.
- 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' 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."
- Star Trek the Next Generation episode Relics found Scotty nearly gagging on the ship's "synthohol". He's more pleased with the true alcoholic Aldebaran whiskey Data brings him.
Data: It is.... it is... it is green.
- Which was an epic-level call-back to a TOS 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 was arguably being unfair due to 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.
- 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.
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," and it appears to be made out of a variety of corrosive acids.
- 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.
- Ever Quest 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Pv P, 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 apalling 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).
- Family Guy
- 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):
Though the beer may be free / you're just renting it from me.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000," where a pair of con man 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.
- 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
- Busch Light
- Pabst Blue Ribbon (ironically, sold like an ultra-premium in China)
- Milwaukee's Best (the legendary "beast"), also comes in light
- Keystone Light (a.k.a. "Reject Batches of Coors Light").
- Blatz (Midwest only; a.k.a. "Slightly Better Batches of PBR")
- National Bohemian (Mid-Atlantic only, particularly MD, a.k.a. Natty Boh')
- 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.
- In Scotland, Tennant's has this dubious honour instead.
- Note to any Australians reading this: The Fosters we drink here 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.
- 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.
- Which is ironic, considering most cheap American beers were originally developed by German immigrants.
- Although those immigrants didn't try to make beer out of rice.
- To be honest, Germany has such a wide variety of beers you will hardly find someone who appreciates all the varieties rather than his local favorite.
- And even in the case of that, they will still usually prefer the local beer.
- Put another way, American beer is like making love in a canoe. It's fucking close to water.
- An attitude shared by many Canadians as well, as in this playful jibe from The Red Green Show:
- Which is ironic, considering most cheap American beers were originally developed by German immigrants.
(the "Possum Lodge Word Game" word is "water")
Red: OK, this is something we drink.
Red: No, no, this has no taste.
Gord: American beer?
- Partly justified, due to the effects of the Prohibition Era.
- And due to the fact that most beers that foreigners would be introduced to are more commonly drunk out of cans. Most mass market beers taste better out of a bottle or as a draft even Budweiser. By serving it draft or from a glass bottle, a cleaner, fresher taste is achieved, as the metals in beer cans adulterate and alter the flavor. This gives the beer that bland, stale sourness one tends to associate with such mass marketed American beers).
- To expand a bit on the above: most breweries went out of business during Prohibition, as you would expect. Those that survived did so by brewing beer, removing the alcohol, then selling the resulting product. To keep costs down, they made these beverages with adjuncts, mainly corn and rice(these are cheaper than barley). When Prohibition was repealed, the recipes for near-beer became the recipes for real beer, adjuncts and all. Since they were cheaper to brew than a normal beer, the breweries using the adjunct recipes came to dominate the American beer scene.
- More Prohibition and booze-related fun; the Philadelphia version of moonshine was called by several lovingly-bestowed nicknames: Soda Pop Moon, Panther Piss, and Coffin Varnish. The last was especially apt as the stuff was made by taking bottled soda and injecting it with wood alcohol. People drank it to get stiff and boy, did they ever.
- And partly of course due to Germany being something of a beer Mecca.
- To be honest the average quality of American Beer has improved compared to what it was a couple of decades ago, largely due to taking a long look at foreign brewing and stiff competition from imports.
- Partly justified, due to the effects of the Prohibition Era.
Why does the body digest beer faster than milk?
Because it doesn't have to change the color!
And why does the body digest American beer faster than German beer?
It doesn't have to change 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. Incidentally, Hobgoblin is well known in England for its humorously scathing criticism of people who drink cheap tasteless larger, 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. In that sort of environment, enjoying beer for its flavor often takes a backseat to the desperate need for something cold and refreshing.
- Finnish beer "Lapin kulta" (Lappland's gold) has many names, but is mainly known as "poron kusi" (reindeer piss). Americans visiting here apparently like it -- nobody else who drinks beer for the taste does.
- 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 off the Firesign Theatre sketch, of course.
- Ever tasted (cheap) Russian beer? No? Keep it like that.
- Same with the beer in the baltic states, wich manages to be even worse by a wide margin.
- 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.