An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hardcore Boozing

I’m going to start this blog by firstly admitting I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’m going to justify it by stating nobody really knows what they are talking about and my opinion is as good as any. It is on the topic of heavy drinking, inspired by Glyns posts here, and Mudges reaction to it here.

When I say I don’t know what I’m talking about, what I am saying is that I really don’t know how much alcohol constitutes a safe amount. The government advises us that it is 21 units per week for a man and 14 for a woman, with a unit being half a pint of 4% beer. So 10 and a half pints of Carling per week, spread about and not all in one night. Can you drink more without ill affect? I’m sure you can. How much more? I don’t really know and question whether anyone really knows for sure. Is the government wrong to advise us regarding what level of booze we ought to be consuming or should the government stay the hell out? In fact there is no consensus, look here, differing governments advise different levels.

The government advise us regarding many things. This is often called “the nanny state” by those that object to being advised. Do I object? Not really. Public health is a public cost. I find it sad the government feel they have to advise us to drink less, eat fruit and vegetables, and exercise more. You can even stand in the urinal in a British pub and see an advert from the government asking men not to rape women. What is that all about?

Some advice you might object less to. Advising children not to get into cars with strangers and to look left and right when they cross the road. That I suspect is one aspect of the nanny state you don’t object to. I don’t read many blogs taking the line “How dare the government advise kids not to take jelly babies off strangers that pull up to them in cars and ask them whether they want to get in the back seat and stroke some puppies. It’s a free country goddammit; the kid should make their own mind up, assess the risks for themselves and decide whether they get in the car. Not all strangers offering jelly babies to kids are going to rape and murder them. It’s a diabolical liberty and infringement of our basic freedoms. Why are we paying our taxes for this?” Though if you know different, let me know. That would be one worrying blog to read.

For all I don’t know on the topic of what is a safe amount to eat, drink & exercise, there is something I do know. I know that eating healthy and taking exercise is in fact better for you than sitting on your fat arse eating chips. The government advice to do the former and avoid the latter isn’t actually wrong, and advising us of this isn’t restricting our freedom to do the latter if we so choose.

Like government advice on smoking, it is actually true that smoking kills you. For every old timer telling you they smoke 80 woodbines a day and never had a day off sick in their life, the graveyard is full of people not so lucky who are not around to tell you about their health. When the government say “don’t smoke”, they are not actually wrong.

Regarding drinking, it is a well known fact that heavy drinking is bad for you. Over time it kills your liver, mottles your skin and makes you look old and haggard. In the short term it makes you feel as rough as a dogs arse. For every idiot claiming they heroically knock back 100 units a week, AA has a dozen people on the 12 step program rebuilding their shattered and broken lives. It’s neither big, hard nor clever and far from heroic. At the risk of causing offence the heroes of heavy drinking like George Best, Richard Burton, Keith Floyd, Oliver Reed, are not really heroes. They are sad idiots that ruined their lives and died prematurely. The fact that they might have enjoyed doing just that is neither here nor there

So what is a safe amount to drink? I’m not even going to begin to express an opinion. I don’t know. If your doctor checks you out and tells you that you are in decent shape then that’s as good as indication as any that you might not die any time soon. Like getting your car serviced. The mechanic may tell you the car is in decent shape or he may tell you it’s a wreck. It’s no guarantee, but it's fair advice. If you get your car serviced but you never get yourself serviced, then I’d ask you what is more important, your car or you? When the government advise you check your knockers or nuts regularly for lumps, you know what? It might just add to your years on the planet.

Oh and if you read blogs where people are telling you they are seriously caning the grog, and you express admiration and respect for their heroic drinking, I’m sorry but you are as big an idiot as they are. Don’t encourage them just so you can feel better about your own habits. The risks you take are with your own liver, not someone else’s.

You’re an adult, do what you like, but heh be careful out there and don’t get into a car with strangers because you want to stroke a puppy. Especially not if the driver looks like a body building Freddie Mercury.


MadAleMan said...

Another thing that might be worth considering is that there seems to be a general aim among beer writers to promote "craft" beer as something that's drunk responsibly, yet these posts about heavy drinking would probably undermine that somewhat.

Curmudgeon said...

The problem, as with many other things today, is that people too easily make the leap from saying "X is safe" to "anything that is not X is unsafe". 21 units of alcohol a week is "safe". 22, or 44, or even 88, doesn't make you Oliver Reed. Yet so much public discourse assumes that it does. How often have you seen "shock reports" on the BBC or in the Grauniad bewailing the fact that 25% of Scottish adults, or whatever, routinely exceed these official guidelines, with an unspoken assumption that is A VERY BAD THING?

Cooking Lager said...

@Mad Bang on Mad, it's all just ethanol, whether it's a craft triple IPA hop bomb or can of Stella. One of the themes of my blog, that it is all just piss water at the end of the day so why pay a fortune for it?

@Mudge. But Scotland Mudge? No offence to the Jocks but they have one of the worst records of public health and mortality in Europe. Living in Scotland is very bad for your health. Don't go there, mate. Stay in Stockpit.

I am Stan said...

Yo CL,

You`ve opened a can of worms there pal, whats too much to drink?, I guess it depends on your size, activity, natural tolerance and mental make up.

1 pint and some are hooked for life and just cannot get enough until it destroys them, others can take it or leave it.

The nanny state thing, yes a lot of blogs scream blue murder when the state advises against drinking,smoking,eating fats etc, problem is these issues are pushed by one issue quangos who make a nice living out of their chosen vice and are constantly pushing the envelope with the guvmint following close behind, all based on manipulated statistics.

The end results are fewer and fewer choices, higher prices and increasing government interference in lifestyle choices, this I believe is whats makes people, including me, angry, I would not mind being advised or warned but to be punished and demonized is a different ball game!

Cooking Lager said...


The government offer advice based on scientific research. Some of it good, some of it bad. Science hasn't got every answer, but it keeps asking the questions and doesn't rely on myth. I have no objection to being advised to drink less any more than I object when my Dad advises me to get my car checked out because its making a funny noise and if I don't I'll be stuck by the side of the road for hours waiting for the RAC. We are all educated adults but we are not experts. Advice is not a bad thing, and it's your choice what you do with it.

As for being punished and demonized? What? If you smoke you are likely to die after lots of expensive NHS care in a hospital. The government should tax you more. The government should tax fat people and drinkers too, to pay for the care they will need. You are still free to smoke and drink, you are only being asked to meet the public cost to society for your actions.

MadAleMan said...

@Curmudgeon I suppose the point I was trying to make is that while the science behind these guidelines should be evaluated, and while it probably isn't massively unhealthy to exceed the guidelines every once in a while, it's probably best to do this in a way that doesn't appear to promote heavy drinking. I daresay it isn't always an easy balance to strike as a writer, but it's important nonetheless.
Speaking as a brewer and a drinker, I don't want to give the government any more excuse to raise taxes than they have already.

I am Stan said...

CL "Advice is not a bad thing, and it's your choice what you do with it."

As I said I don`t mind being advised.

CL "You are still free to smoke and drink, you are only being asked to meet the public cost to society for your actions."

Public cost?,but I do pay for my actions,through my personal income tax and NI contributions, also through VAT.

In fact as a smoker, drinker and lover of late night kebabs many say I will die earlier than a tea total,non smoking vegan, however my tax contributions even in my shorter life span will be significantly higher.

So actually our vegan should be thanking me,when they are in their nineties and my tax surplus is paying for someone to wipe their bottom for them...;)

Ghost Drinker said...

I don't think people who actually take the time to write beer blogs, about something which is obviously important to them, is going to be the type of person to constantly brag about the fact they necked 50 units the night before.

But on the other hand we are all human. We all have the odd night when we have a bit of a binge and drink a little more than we should, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If we beer bloggers choose to write about it, it's our choice. People will reactions will always differ to those posts; some will say nice one, some will say you drink too much, and others will see it as a bit of a warning and tell themselves 'I'd never drink that much'.

Cooking Lager said...

@Mad I've no problem with people promoting boozing responsible or otherwise. People can write what they like on their own blogs. It's a free country. I can agree or disagree.

@Stan, there is no excuse for vegans, I'm with you there, but but why should none drinkers pay to clean up the vomit & fights from binge drinkers? Why should the healthy pay for fat people to have gastric bands? Smokers pay more tax. Of course home drinking cooking lager enthusiasts are no cost to society and ought to be taxed less.

@Ghost Fair enough, not disagreeing.

Curmudgeon said...

Cookie, it's well established that over their lifetimes people with "unhealthy" lifestyles cost the NHS less because they die earlier. The big problem is all the healthy people in their 90s clogging up hospital wards.

I am Stan said...


Ah but its not just binge drinkers who vomit and fight is it, moderate drinkers vomit and fight too, besides they`re (drinkers) paying over the odds in taxes,they pay in so should get the return when they need it.

Fat people pay their taxes too, and who`s to say whats healthy or not,obviously obesity is unhealthy but does being a little over weight mean you should be taxed more or denied treatment into a service you contribute too?

Cooking Lager said...

@Mudge, you'll be suggesting Logan's Run is a model for society next.

@Stan I wouldn't deny treatment to anyone. But the logic for taxing smokers adds up, and there is logic in taxing drink. Both are already taxed. The same logic suggests taxing Gregs sausage rolls.

I am Stan said...

Whaaaaaaaaat....where`s the logic?, higher prices does nothing to reduce a hard core drinkers alcohol consumption, all it does is punish the moderate drinkers,you think if White Lightening went up by 50p they`d go dry......

"Gregs sausage rolls", you`ve had too many sherberts for lunch mate..:)

Cooking Lager said...

@Stan I'm not talking about reducing peoples drinking or taxing boozers or smokers any more than they already are. I'm saying it is justified that they are taxed more than none drinkers & smokers, which is currently the case. My that logic you'd find a way of taxing the fat to pay for obesity care. Any walk around any town centre tells you Greg's sausage rolls go down a treat with larger people.

Mark N said...

If you’ve thought you might die – not a few years down the line, but NOW, it brings home that we have very little time on this planet. I’ve not been well, and during moments of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve wondered why I was the one chosen to be struck down, rather than the fools with dangerous/illegal hobbies and habits. I’m now on the road to recovery and I’ve learnt that every day is precious.
So I’ll savour every sip of my pint a bit more than I used to, and heck, if I feel like fat-necking a few more than the guidelines suggest, I’ll have no guilt. Life’s too short and beer’s too nice.

I am Stan said...


MadAleMan said...

True enough, it is a free country. My personal preference is for blogs about beer rather than quantity of beer, but I've probably put myself across as being more grumpy about the whole thing than I actually am.

I'll stop complaining about other peoples' blogs now, especially as I'm too lazy to write my own :)

Cooking Lager said...

On a different note, Stan, I am liking your blog. I do like filth.

I am Stan said...

It`s all done in the best poooooosible taste!....;)

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

You usually make me laugh.

This time you made me think.

Perhaps even rethink.

You've provided a genuinely thought-provoking cause for re-evaluation and reflection.

My hat is off to you.

Now for f***'s sake get thee to the fridge and snap out of it!

Darren said...

Indeed a can of worms here Cooky, all I think on the how much question is it depends. Depends on a whole bunch of stuff. I think your take on if the doc says your ok you probably are. The last check up I had all was good, all the doc said was loose some weight and drink a bit less but this was just him wanting to offer something.

As for the government setting levels. Its their job to keep you alive, regulate stuff like lead paint and chemical use on foods. Its not their job to tell us that we cant make decisions on how we feel or want to live.

Shame its 10AM here in Melb or I'd have a beer right now just to be anti government. Good advice Hearty Goodfellow - to the fridge

BeerMatt said...

Great post. Well done.

Velky Al said...

Is it telling that the ladies in the picture aren't drinking beer in any way shape or form?