Of course beer wants you to drink it

Phil ‘Beersay’ Hardy has kicked off another of those periodic rounds of fretting among beer British beer geeks: are we, by definition, in an unhealthy relationship with beer? Do we drink too much, too often? Are we dependent on alcohol?

We don’t think it’s silly to ask this question from time to time, or to consider the possible impact of beer on your own health.

There are those who will tell you, however, that even acknowledging a possible problem gives succor to ‘the enemy’, viz. those who would like to see drinking regulated, marginalised or even banned outright. We say, ignore them: the belief that how much you drink is a personal decision has to go both ways, and if you choose to drink less, that’s your shout.

Some people in the industry, however, do drink a lot, every night of the week, apparently, and at breakfast time, if their Twitter feeds are to be believed. That last is a taboo for many, and one of those safety indicators we use to check our consumption: as long as we still feel queasy at the thought of beer before midday, we’ll feel reasonably happy that we’ve not gone over a cliff just yet.

There are also brewers and publicans who will urge you to go to the pub RIGHT NOW, and make it plain you’re letting down ‘the movement’ if you don’t. You need to up your game, they insist, and drink more. If you don’t drink strong beer, you risk losing it to the taxman and the ‘neo-prohibitionists’. We’re not saying they’re being irresponsible, only that, well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? You should only drink because you want to and if you feel comfortable doing so, not because someone who gains from your drinking is sending you on a guilt-trip.

Of course, it is possible that some people in the industry have lost perspective themselves, being around free-flowing beer all day every day. We remember talking to a former pub landlord over a few jars: ‘I loved running a pub — loved it. It’s what I was put on Earth to do,’ he said, then sighed. He shook his pint glass from side to side and looked at it sadly. ‘But this stuff was just too handy. I got out just in time.’

If you want to take January or any other month off drinking, do it. You’re not letting anyone down by taking a night off, or drinking water in the pub every now and then. And if you’re worried, turn to your loved ones for help or reassurance, not to your drinking buddies, online or otherwise, and certainly not to a publican or brewer.

10 thoughts on “Of course beer wants you to drink it”

  1. I only ever really drink between 8-11 during the week and maybe after 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Mainly because I’m just too busy any other time, but it also provides a useful buffer I suppose. Morning drinking just seems insane.

  2. Reading the other blog was interesting. Of course one is right to worry about alcohol. I like to have two or three AFDs a week and have done so as long as I can remember.

    Also I drink in the pub, not at home. That certainly concentrates the mind due to price and the “I can’t be bothered traipsing out tonight” factor. And I rarely drink strong beer.

    Still – you will probably see a lot of people justifying themselves in the same way!

  3. Gotta say, I love the pre-midday pint, and have made a habit of a pre-dawn pint of Porterhouse Oyster stout when on an early flight out of Dublin Terminal 2. But it would barely affect me if all pubs were forced to close at 9pm.

  4. I’ve had a sense for a long while that there is far too little concern amongst good beer nerds with over drinking and health. Far too quickly is the tangential health benefit posted while the news that there is no level of consumption that does not increase cancer risk is never raised. And to make matters worse freelance drinks writers and PR consultants take it upon themselves to hand out medical advice. I had a social pal 15 years ago who loved to declare how he lived by his own rule and drank what he liked. He died at 51.

  5. Then issue for geeks is that beer is not the personal pleasure it is for regular people, but a campaign, an issue, a movement. Something to be apart of and an attempt to influence others.

    Hence people that like to tell other people what they should and shouldn’t drink. Drink that it is authentic, don’t drink that it is adjunct piss. Hence people that like to tell you to support whatever it is they like. Drink in pubs, not at home. Cheap piss ought to cost more because those other drinkers, they are the problem, not us., and they might stop drinking piss and drink what we approve of in the manner of which we approve if we only alter our attempts to influence into those of control.

    We seem to accept the government and fake charities spending our money telling us to drink less and eat salads. Over 100,000 people want to join a club to make cheap piss more expensive.

    But I agree, do what you like, stick up for yourself and don’t be told what to do. Drink when you want, what you want and not when you don’t want to. Know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance and take advice only from those you respect.

    Funny how a society has moved from trying to control sex and who sleeps with each other and marries to what and how often they drink.

    1. I did a blogpost here about how there has been a curious inversion in what we are relaxed about, and what we are Puritanical about. Mind you, with recent moves to curb pornography, the wheel seems to be turning yet again.

  6. Py0 – having a few personal rules about when you do and don’t drink seems sensible to us, but then there’s that school of thought that says “A-ha! Gotcha! The fact that you need those rules shows that you definitely have a problem!”

    Tandleman — drinking more lovely, lovely tea is probably the answer to achieving more dry days. We tend to drink more in the pub, though, having gone to the trouble of getting there. (This is especially true of the Star Inn, which is a bus ride away.)

    The Beer Nut — the breakfast pint once or twice a year, as a naughty holiday treat, can be quite good fun, but not until I’ve had a coffee, something to eat, and have been awake for at least two hours.

    Alan — it’s annoying to see brewers/writers/PRs re-Tweeting new stories saying “See, told you beer was good for you!” Because it’s probably not. A much stronger argument is that the pleasure it brings balances many of the health risks, at least in the way most people consume it. (Pete Brown’s made this point well a few times.)

    Cookie — kind of see what you mean, but big breweries would be arguing vigorously that beer is good for you (and used to) if they weren’t regulated and self-regulated up the wazoo. I’m reminded of those lovely posters in chip shops from the British chip marketing board, or whatever it is, insisting that they’re a health food.

    Ron — knew you’d say that…

  7. With the exception of breakfast before bed after an all-nighter, I don’t understand breakfast boozing – and I really mean “don’t understand”: the idea makes no sense to me, Does Not Compute, I can’t really believe anyone does it. On the other hand, at the weekend I sometimes have a quick one before lunch, and “before lunch” can start at 11.00 (but certainly no earlier).

    I don’t think this is about keeping myself on the straight and narrow – I think it’s just an assumption I picked up a long time ago. I do feel a bit “slippery slope” if I find I’m drinking every night; I like to have one dry day per week, and it’s usually more like three. Realistically the slope isn’t all that slippery, though; apart from anything else I hardly ever get drunk drunk these days.

    I suppose you can distinguish between seriously worrying that the booze might be bad for your health, seriously worrying that you might not be able to stop or cut down if you tried, and just vaguely worrying that if you drank more you might end up in one of those categories. I’m in the third group & suspect most of us (who worry) are as well.

  8. Mmmmm, a bit too much moralising and holier than thou comments on here for my liking. Also, a touch of “Nannying” creeping in as well. I think we’re all adult enough to make up our own minds about what constitutes sensible/responsible drinking, and the same arguments apply equally to other activities such as eating, exercising etc.

    In the end it all boils down to how much self-discipline we, as individuals, have. No need for me to comment further, apart from to say, no I won’t be having a beer tonight, but yes I did indulge myself with a chocolate croissant.

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