Showing posts with label alcohol law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alcohol law. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Let Them Drink Session!

Obviously I can't speak for you, but I remember my first beer, it was a half pint of my dad's homebrew when I was about 10 years old. We were living in Wales at the time and had built a huge patio behind our house, so naturally my parents had a bash to celebrate it being usable. I can't remember exactly what kind of beer it was, though I remember it was brewed in a polypin, most likely from a kit bought at Boots, and that it was brown, perhaps it was a generic bitter of some kind?

As kids we were allowed the occasional glass of wine with dinner, or cider during the summer. With the onset of the teenage years we were allowed a can of beer from time to time, by which point we had moved back to Scotland and said cans were Tennent's Lager featuring women in various states of comtemplating undress. By the time I had my first legal pint on my 18th birthday, I was no stranger to beer, cider and wine.

A couple of days ago, a friend on Facebook posting this article from the Huffington Post about how America's ridiculous legal age for alcohol consumption when compared to Germany's actually serves to create a culture of binge drinking. What though does this have to do with craft beer?

Let's assume the existence of some mythological American youth who when they get to their 21st birthday has never had a drop of alcohol pass their lips - yes I know such a creature is somewhat rare but for the sake of argument let's assume that the law isn't entirely out of touch with reality. On said young person's 21st birthday, having waited 3 years longer than their British cousins, they go to a brewery for a tour and tasting. Every beer they try is over 6% abv and they walk out having bought a case of double IPA or Foreign Extra Stout, whatever is on special that day. They chose the stronger beers simply because "it get's me where I want to be quicker", which is of course young person speak for , "I want to get pissed and pass out as quickly as possible, because that's what drinking is for". Still the question remains, what does this have to do with craft beer?

I suppose directly the answer would be "not much", but tangentially I wonder if the industry's reticence, and I am painting with broad strokes here, to brew session beers is contributing to binge drinking among beginner drinkers? I dread to think what kind of state these kids get themselves into as a result of going from nothing to high octane brews literally overnight.

Is there an answer? Well, yes I think there is. More sensible laws would be a good place to start, acknowledge that older teenagers are going to drink, so why bother making criminals out of them? Bringing the legal age for alcohol consumption down to at least 18 would be a good start, though personally I would bring it even further down, to 16, though I would make the minimum age for being in a pub 18. I would stagger what is available to kids of different ages like so:
  • 16/17 year olds, nothing over 3.5% abv
  • 18/19 year olds, nothing over 4% abv
  • 20 year olds, nothing over 4.5% abv
Assuming the Jesuit concept of getting them while they are young, this would be a good time for craft brewers to introduce younger people to flavourful session beer. It would also, and I claim nothing but self interest here, mean that there would be more session beer available for the rest of us, which is never a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Smoke Free Virginia

Apparently there is now a smoking ban in place for restaurants in Virginia, how does this affect me? Well, for a start, there are no such things as bars in Virginia - bars in the sense that most people understand them, watering holes, drinking dens, places with beer and maybe some snacks. To serve alcohol in Virginia it is required to serve food as well, effectively making a pub in reality a "restaurant that serves alcohol" to quote Dave over at Musings Over A Pint.

From my experience of going to "pubs" so far, very few of them have been smoky in the slightest - now admittedly my frame of reference for a smoky pub would be one of the various dark places in Prague that filled up fairly quickly with a blue fug, and you left reeking incredibly badly. But I think making restaurants no smoking is a good idea, simply because eating dinner and inhaling copious amounts of second hand smoke really isn't all that pleasant, it ruins the food for a start.

This has, however, convinced me that Virginia needs bars where the food available includes crisps, chocolate bars and pre-made sandwiches for the hungry, nothing fancy, but something which is easy to do and doesn't require massive capital investment in building a kitchen. I have to admit that I am a bit confused by the law here about what qualifies as food in order to serve alcohol, so if any of my Virginia readers can enlighten me then I would be very happy.

I do however have a problem with smoking bans in principle. What is the point of having a perfectly legal, if unhealthy, habit and then proscribing partakers in that particular habit from performing their perfectly legal act in given places? Why not go to the heart of the problem and ban tobacco (and yes I know the tobacco lobby would be up in arms)? But part of me also wonders, when will the prohibitionists attempt to force similar "alcohol bans"? Now, it would be easy to convince ourselves that the nutter prohibitionist movement could never impose another alcohol ban, but they did it before and would love to do it again, indeed I know of a few towns in the US which are "dry".

Perhaps what is needed in Virginia is a campaign for the law to be changed, and allow bars and pubs to open which are primarily "wet-led" to use the British industry parlance. I would posit that there is scant evidence that insisting on serving food in order to serve alcohol makes people likely to drink less, so why hobble entrepreneurs with ridiculous legislation? While I am in a slightly campaigning mood, I would also like to campaign for the legal age for alcohol consumption to be lowered to 18, it a person is old enough to pay taxes, smoke, vote, die in the army, then by what justification do you deny people the right to enjoy a pint at the end of the day. Also, I want to see the requirement for carding people who look over 30 in shops and other places serving alcohol outlawed - have these people never heard of "innocent until proven guilty". Yes it can be difficult to tell, but you should only card when you are not sure.

Here ends today's lesson.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...