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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why Do 'I' Drink?

Lew Bryson is a fantastic beer writer and his blog is one site I read on a daily basis, getting the scoop on the US beer market. Back on June 10, 2008 Bryson posted a piece on the proposed taxes on beer in Maine during an election. On December 31st he received the following comment on that post from an anonymous person:
Anonymous said...
No offense to you, but I just do not understand why so many people have to be drunk in this country. It seems like if you are not a "drinker", then society looks down on you. Why?

I am 35 years old, never drank and have no desire to. I live in Maryland, a state that denies anyone to smoke in public, even considering a ban on smoking in your own home yet you can drink til the cows come home. I was at a restaurant where the manager received a complaint about a smoker standing outside the entry so he called the police and they made the person leave the property. Yet during the same visit to this place [Fuddruckers in Columbia], they sell beer to anyone who has the money. There are open containers of beer on pretty much every table in the place on a weekday afternoon. This drinker [aka: loser], he got up to go to the bathroom, and while gone, two kids maybe 11 or 12 years old walked up and drank from that bottle of booze.

During my visit there, this same person drank 2 beers and looked like he had some before getting to the restaurant too. When I complained to the guy and the manager, everyone acted as if I was from another planet. Like nothing is wrong with everybody getting boozed up and stumbling around and allowing minors to have free access to illegal products.

It seems to me that america is seriously flawed in their values now, we have major issues going on currently including a "depression" hitting the economy, jobs being lost daily, shitty healthcare standards, and so much more. Yet our leaders are focused on blocking marriage to those that want it, are entitled to it, etc. I bet a guy could marry his keg of beer though if he wanted to!!!

In closing, I just don't get it. Want is the fascination with life that sad that everyone would rather be lost in a liquor fog that to face realty and deal with life 1-on-1.
Bryson then wrote a beautiful column titled 'Why We Drink' in response to the anonymous commenter, which has received a good number of follow up comments from pro-drinkers. Bryson covered off the moderation argument, so I won't touch that, but it got me thinking: Why do I drink?

I drink for a number of valid reasons, valid reasons to me anyway, but I'll only list three here. The first reason for my consumption of beer is for social reasons. The old cliche - Beer is a social lubricant, it brings people together. Well, it does. I do most of my drinking in the pubs and it is here that I can meet someone for the first time and carry on a conversation like we had known each other for years. Sure, that can happen elsewhere in a different context, but it is never the same as over a couple of pints at the pub.

The second reason why I drink has to do with interest. Beer is my hobby; drinking quality beer, writing about beer and promoting good beer. In order to do the last two you must try the beer. It's the fascination with trying a new beer for the first time, visiting a new pub, learning things about beer that have helped shape the world. I am a history buff and the brewing industry offers an exciting glimpse into the past. It's full of wonderful, and colourful stories about the emergence of brewing in colonial times, how pubs/taverns/inns helped in the development of cities, and about the characters that were behind the beer. I like the taste of beer, the complexities contained in the body and the aroma's certain ones contain.

And thirdly (I could probably keep listing more reasons) I drink because I grew up in a household, and a family, who were beer drinkers. Maybe not the best beer, but beer drinkers none-the-less, and I observed them from a young age having fun, getting merry and acting goofy. Albeit in a responsible manner. When I was old enough to a steal drink from my father's beer after a fastball game I felt like I was one of the guys hanging out after the game. It showed that not all drinkers were drunks, that people could drink in moderation and still get home safely. It started my fascination with beer and through other series of events it has led me to where I am today.

The comment made by 'anonymous' (why didn't the person leave a name?) also got me thinking about the teetotalers stance on drinking. Why do people drink?

What do people drive? Why do people fly? Why do people swim? Why are there guns? Why do people smoke crack? Why to pedophiles get joke sentences when convicted? Why do teetotalers focus on drink when there are other dangers in the world? I don't know and I don't care, but to attack other people's pleasure in live because they can't see the benefit of drink is a waste of time in my opinion. Just take a look back to prohibition - yeah, that worked out well for them eh!

I understand that there are individuals in society who have one to many then get behind the wheel, which can cause serious injuries to themselves or others, even causing death. I have respect for organizations that fight this problem, but my personal stance is that drink is not the problem; people without good judgement is the real problem. Attacking alcohol is easy, but getting rid of booze won't stop people from speeding and causing horrific attacks.

I think Bryson did a good job responding to the anonymous poster and I look forward to seeing if the mystery person will offer a rebuttal.  Alan at A Good Beer Blog has also chimed in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well written - there will always be people who have an opinion not necessarily based on experience or fact but on ignorance and we all know that ignorance breeds fear. This person (anonymous)doesn't seem to realize that being a drinker doesn't mean you drink to excess at any opportunity. He seems to have picked alcohol as his personal enemy.

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