Time was it took a certain degree of political courage - possibly fortified by the Dutch variety - to tax the workers' beer.
But tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. Today MSPs, some of them lodging caveats, agreed to big increases in the cost of alcohol licences.
Defending the change, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was in notably combative form. He told one Labour MSP that her particular complaint was “total baloney”.
So what’s happening? In future, instead of the present fixed, limited fee for all pubs and shops, licensed premises will pay a variable rate for obtaining a licence.
Smaller premises would pay £800, the big places up to £2,000. In addition, there are annual renewal fees.
And why the fuss? The licensed trade complains that the fees are much higher than anticipated - and warns that some pubs with marginal income levels could go out of business.
The nature of the minister’s response is intriguing. Far from offering sympathy - or even pretending to sound emollient - he placed his decision firmly in the context of wider efforts to tackle the negative consequences of alcohol.
He said, bluntly: “Those who profit from the sale of alcohol have a responsibility to help pay for the costs.”
The new fee structure will now cover the full cost of the licensing system. Selling booze, he argued, was a privilege, not a right. That privilege comes with a cost. Today at Holyrood that cost increased.