It appears snippy technical arguments about the fine points of the taxation of beer is not something that came into being with beer blogs. Consider this in The Spectator from 1830:
A correspondent observes, that this reasoning is inapplicable, inasmuch as the former tax is levied on all malt, for whatever purpose used, and the latter only affects brewers' beer. "Malt," he goes on, "is used for at least three purposes,—distilling, public brewing, private brewing: the public brewing is probably not more than a third of the whole." He concludes from this probability, that the beer-tax adds 1d. to the price of the quart of beer, and not 1/2d. as we argued. We need hardly notice how very lax our correspondent is in his own reasoning, when he ventures on drawing a 'positive inference from probable premises: it is with his facts, however, that we mean to deal.
Half a penny to the quart! Sweet Jesus on the cross... now there is an argument worth having. But, seeing as a pound Sterling in 1830 is apparently worth $108 today and given there were 240 pennies in a pound and two pints to a penny we are talking about 22.5 pence a pint in today's value so, yes, no small thing. But still... no doubt Mothers Against Drunken Cart Operation (MADCO) were behind all this.
But the more interesting point is made at the conclusion of the article in reply to the correspondent, a criticism about the real enemy to the drinking public not being taxation but the licensing system:
...a system which enables the public brewer to sell what liquor and to make what charges he sees fit; which converts a beverage that, when pure, at once strengthens and exhilarates, into a poisonous compound of all manner of abominations; that destroys the stomach and stupifies the head, and is even more injurious to the health than it is to the purses of the community...
Someone's got a wee issue. What is being compared is the difference between publican's and home brewed beer. Something we don't get into as much in these affluent times. Notice that the article identifies that private home brewing results in a one pence a quart beer while public brewing costs three pence - even taking into account the full taxation of both processes. Which is an argument after my own heart. If you dip into the 1960s and '70s UK home brewing guides, you read the same arguments - good ale made at a fraction of the pub. In 1967, Ken Shales wrote in verse "...Prentices or Craft Brothers, we have our little joke / We are always drinking, but the Publicans go broke." Same point.
Why has that tension dissipated? Sure, folk today will moan about the taxman but never the markup. What you pay isn't the fault of the brewer's take. Where are the side-by-side photos with, to the left, some swank sucker juice and another in a can with the advice being that the beers are virtually the same? What do we not know that they knew in 1830 and 1967?