By now I’ve read most beer bloggers have got off their chest their disdain for Dry January and the new alcohol guidelines. There are too many to post links to all but this article on the Telegraph is worth a look, By Charles Moore.
I add my own two pence not to disagree with anything I’ve read but to add a point I think many have not considered. Off course beer bloggers, evangelists, communicators, writers, pissheads are going to ignore the new limits and try lots of new beers in January to support the great British pub. They will ignore the new guidelines and carry on!
Beer enthusiasts fall into a category I like to call “committed drinker”. It’s going to take the first hospital scare for many to cut out the pop. I’ve had the fortune to meet in person many and the 30 year old guy that likes a skin full of strong beer every night but thinks that’s different from doing the same with the Spesh because it's "craft" and seems to genuinely believe his gout is genetic is always a pleasure to meet as an example of the power of self-delusion. Something I think is more common the better educated and intelligent people are. The committed drinker will pull apart the stats and convince himself he is right and carry on.
The point I’d like to make is most people are not committed drinkers and the market cycles to a new generation every 10 years. People drink from 20-80. A 60 year customer life. Every 10 years a sixth of the market is replaced. The new puritanism will have an effect and it is having an effect. A bigger chunk of people will listen than the small number of committed noisy drinkers alongside I sit. When I was a kid people smoked on the top deck of buses. It smelt horrible and I didn’t like it. Within my lifetime this habit is all but prohibited. The process has been applied to drink and they are well on their way to drinking being as socially unacceptable by the time my nieces are my age.
It’s the kids the guidelines are aimed at. Those not even in the market yet, and from what we can currently see most young people prefer the new temperance bars of Costa and Starbucks to the pubs. So it’s working then. I’ve nowt against Costa, I like their mocha and carrot cake but the hang out for today’s youth isn’t a place with drink. Lager fuelled lads like me were inclined to try out your beardy beer festivals and accept a pint of bitter can be nice, you just need to drink it in a place they keep it well. Not sure how you are going to convince people that don’t drink to come along and try it. People that don’t drink ain’t interested in the more discerning booze you are hawking, pal.
On my first day back in work after Xmas an email greeted me from the HR department of my client site encouraging all the employees to do a Dry January. The people doing it were not exactly boozers to begin with. One chap doing it drinks on average one bottle of wine a week but thinks a January detox is a good idea. What toxins he was trying to expel I didn’t bother asking. I pondered for a moment my first graduate job. We all went for a drink Friday lunchtimes. I’d hover near the boss so that she would buy me a pint. Good strategy that. The grad trainees went out into town a couple of nights a week. Booze was the social lubrication of that moment in time. Today my work colleagues are more likely to go to the gym and have a protein shake. Nobody goes out to the pub anymore in offices. It doesn’t bother me so much, to tell the truth, but it’s a change worth noting. Whether a Friday lunch or after work. Maybe they will live longer, but drink is already well on its way to being a denormalized socially unacceptable hobby.
The puritans are winning and us boozers are losing.
You will resist, you are committed enough to intellectualize the pop and call it a hobby. I will resist but I won’t be mentioning my beery hobby on client site as I don’t want people thinking I’m a pisshead. But maybe it’s time to decide whether you are a puritan or not. Whether you stand with those that think it okay to stop others enjoying something of which you disapprove (buying cheap wine from Asda), or whether you stand with those that advocate the personal freedom to damage your own health seeing as you're busy damaging your own.
Whatever it is you want. Whether it’s a healthy market of craft beer, open pubs selling cask bitter, or simply a cheap slab of beer to sit on your own couch with whilst watching Death in Paradise (it’s good that show). It’s puritans you’re up against, not each other