Sunday, 6 February 2011

Education is the solution

I have just finished reading another histrionic undercomplicated arguement as to why high abv beers are the greatest threat to mankind since some bloke said 'I bloody am Jesus, now go and write a book about me and my dad'.

Now, I am quite certain I could write several very long poorly informed pages on why no MP should ever be allowed to influence the social framework of this country, how big breweries are the scourge of the earth and why minimum pricing is a brilliant idea, but will never be implemented because the decision takers and policy makers lack the courage to stand up to big business.

No, my time would be better served operating on my own genitalia using a heated spoon and a can of Special Brew. It is impossible to pinpoint exactly why the UK has such a destructive drinking culture but one thing is for certain, the government have got it horribly, catastrophically wrong.

The Review of Alcohol Taxation published by the powers that be at the end of last year was a quaint little read. Researched and written by a small group of deaf and blind miners from Patagonia, aided by some government policy makers who were guided helpfully by various consumer groups who have no vested interest in protecting the price of beer which is around 4%, like CAMRA and breweries who have no interest in protecting the price of beer which is around 5%, such as Heineken, AB In-Bev, Molson Coors and Diageo. Of course other independent contributors were much less biased, such as Macro, the wholesaler, a popular shopping venue for the high abv beer consumer. Cynical? No, just fact.

Looking at the claims made by the government about the UK's drinking problems. Which can be found here; . You can only marvel at the level of hypocrisy, it is truly impressive.

- More than 30,000 people were admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning in England in 2007-08 (13,400 men and 16,700 women) – that’s more than 500 every week - This is a beer blog so I'll skip over the details, but how many of those almost 17k women do you reckon were admitted to hospital because they'd over done it on the Cantillon? I'm guessing very few... How ever it would be 'infair to penalise the responsible drinkers of wine and spirits'.

-  Around 40% of patients admitted to Accident and Emergency departments (A&E) are diagnosed with alcohol-related injuries or illnesses.

These are just two of the statistics on the governments website. Do they seriously think that these stats were created by a small group of beer geeks and a few scruffy chaps sitting on benches shouting at people? No, but it would be 'unfair to penalise premium beers which are generally under 7.5% abv in strength'.

Put it this way, if you see a fight on a street corner on a Saturday night you can be pretty sure that neither of the protagonsists is a beer geek or a homeless bloke, but its a safe bet that at least one of them will have traces of what the government describes as 'premium beers' and what the rest of us describe as industrial swill, in their system

So to the beer geeks, the price insensitive social hooligans who have the audacity to go to a local independent store to hunt out something made with passion, creativity, care and integrity and then walk home in a civilised manner and sit on the sofa enjoying this rarity, taking notes and discussing this treasure with friends.

It is up to us to purge our society of the menace we provide, it is up to us to solve the ills we project and the problems we create. We must educate those around us, explain our behaviour. Its not our fault, its an addiction and those graced with the power to resist tasty well made and expertly crafted beers need to understand our compulsion. We are the true bane of society, we'd love to just hit the pub, sink 10 pints of Stella, fight someone we've never met and end up in a police van or an ambulance. We're just not the type, sorry.

We have a drinking culture in the UK which needs to be changed and education is key. Traditional education is no good, teenagers are invincible, so telling them that drinking 6 cans of cheap lager in a graveyard is going to give them liver disease will have no impact whatsoever. Trips to breweries, vinyards and distilleries are no good either because unless you are a super geek, these places are just plain boring. You will never instill passion amongst the masses by talking about valves and stainless steel.

No, young people need to be educated and educated by people with passion and understanding. People who can articulate how drinking responsibly can be fun. Get these people in to schools, get the pupils to try different beers (yes, I did say that), smell different hops, taste different malts and educate them on how the ingredients produce the different products. Empower them, give them a choice, and I guarantee their attitudes to drinking will change.

It won't eradicate the problem but you'd see one hell of a difference. Alternatively, price them out of interesting beers, leave them with no knowledge, no power and the disillusioned premise that Peroni is the epitomy of quality.

Wake up and smell the hops.

1 comment:

  1. I honestly can't express how passionately I agree with every single word in this post. Torches and pitchforks, people!