Food & Drink

We Can’t Look Away from People Steamrolling Alcohol

Let’s take a moment to pour one out for all the wasted booze of the world—or, more appropriately, pour one into a glass so as not to add to the problem. In a move that is both Youtube-fodder-friendly and highly effective, countries like Indonesia and Australia are disposing of illegally obtained alcohol via steamroller. The massive vehicles are capable of crushing thousands of bottles, leaving a muddy trail of booze and the scent of vodka and rum in the air.

In Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, almost 20,000 bottles of confiscated alcohol were recently destroyed. Much of the stock was obtained during the destruction of the city’s red light district, Kalijodo, which was torn down earlier this year. Although Indonesia is a majority Muslim country, alcohol sales are legal in the nation with the exception of the Aceh province, which enforces Sharia laws. But in order to reconcile with Islamic parties in the country, alcohol is very expensive with some import taxes looming around 150 percent. Exorbitant prices have led to a bootlegging epidemic.

A similar situation has taken hold in Western Australia where alcoholism is a widespread issue. In the sparsely populated Kimberley region, the sale of full strength alcohol is banned in many towns to keep the disease from getting out of hand. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Residents pay outrageous prices—like $150 for a case of beer—to “sly groggers” (bootleggers) who drive to towns where alcohol sales are allowed, and fill their trunks with liquor and beer, which they sell for double or triple the price. This week, authorities crushed about $5,000 worth of confiscated booze in the town of Broome. It is estimated the lot would have been sold for about $13,000.

We’re, of course, sad to see all that booze go to waste, but you have to admit the sight and sound of crushed bottles is at least a little satisfying.