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.