Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Octavius Tinsworth Federidge Ace

 F-f-ff-fff-f-ff-for some people — me included — this is a supremely satisfying beer image: Eight cans of Federation Ace lager.

I have never tasted Ace. Until this week, I had never even seen an actual photograph of it. I half suspected it didn't exist. But it does. Or at least it did. I believe that Federation Brewery (owned by Dunston) abandoned it in the 90s, but RateBeer contributors reviewed some cans as recently as 2006, and it isn't the kind of beer you'd intentionally age.

In fact, if you are anything like 8-Ace — an alcoholic comic-strip character from legendary juvenile British magazine "Viz" — all eight cans are to be drunk on the way home from the corner shop where you bought them.

Viz requires no introduction to the initiated, yet its charm is difficult to explain to the newcomer. Wikipedia does a thorough job, but briefly: Viz is a toilet-humour comic, aimed mostly at teenagers and men who think making up imaginative names for vaginas is high art ("Wizard's sleeve" and "sausage wallet" spring keenly to mind). It's crass, irreverent, but often sharply satirical, and occasionally brilliant.

8-Ace is my favourite character. He's a truly hopeless alco, living in a run-down house with a battleaxe of a wife and several feral children, whom he threatens to "bray" with regularity. The gist of every episode is that 8-Ace comes to realize he is a disastrous boozer, seeks redemption and sobriety of some kind, but is always cruelly trusted with £1.49 ("one-forteh-nine") — which is precisely the cost of eight cans of Ace lager. The final frame always depicts 8-Ace's inevitable wagon dismount: hammered, surrounded by empty cans of Ace, screaming at the world ("f-ff-ff-ffucking, y-y-yer f-f-fuck!") and inexplicably urinating on his own nicotine-stained fingers.

£1.49 seems impossibly cheap for eight cans of any beer, but it seems to be factual. I worked at Safeway in the 90s, where we stocked 4-packs of "Eiger" lager for £1.25, so I can believe a lager was that cheap in the eighties. But it must have been pretty rank, two Ratebeer guys give it 0.5/5 (the lowest possible score), the third and final reviewer goes as far as 1.8/5, with a touchingly earnest review: "Golden coloured and slightly sweet. Wheat flavour. Some dryness in a malt finish."

8-Ace seems like a depressing business all around. But despite his affliction, temper and appalling physical appearance, 8-Ace possesses the dregs of a sweet soul. Every time he sobers up he genuinely seems to want to make a go of it. He addresses an imaginary god "Why did ah 'ave ta luv the ace so?", and makes heartfelt promises to his awful wife that he'll do the right thing and "neva eva eva" touch the Ace again. And he means it too. It's just the world conspires to put lovely, lovely Ace at his fingertips. And Octavius Tinsworth Federidge Ace just cannot resist.

However, if Pliny the Elder, Dark Lord, or Orval were £1.49 (about $2.50) for an eight pack, I warrant there'd be one or two more of us shaking our fists at imaginary deities and weeing on our fingers.


  1. f-f-f-fuckin' b-b-b-b-bitch! i treated her like a Queen! hic!

  2. My ex wife has agreed to let me return to her house......but I have to live in the shed!

    A half-mad, beerliving pisshead in a shed? Why, I am living his life.

    BTW I recommend

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