Friday, 6 January 2012

Different attitude to beer.

I was in Belgium leading up to New Year and it was as wonderful as ever. This piece isn't about my consumption though, rather that of my 14 year old daughter and her friend. In Britain alcohol is tightly regulated on licensed premises. Looking back to my teenage years, wearing long trousers and having a vague idea of what to order was enough to obtain a pint of mild. As the years past, looking over 18 wasn't enough and the latest scheme is the 'Think 25' where it seems that almost anyone under pensionable age has to produce ID.

Belgium is far more relaxed. Our teenagers drank fruit beers with strengths of 3 to 4% in four different bars in three different town/cities during the week and not one barperson so much as raised an eyebrow never mind enquired of their age. Note that it was one beer per day maximum. I am aware of Belgian commentators pronouncing that weak beer is better for school children than fizzy soft drinks such as Coca Cola.

The question I ask is am I and the Belgian bar staff being irresponsible in allowing teenagers to drink beer in a controlled but relaxed environment? Or should Britain follow this lead to discourage the binge drinking by teenagers at home, in parks etc. I knew exactly how to behave in a pub by the age of 16 and education denied to current teenagers.


  1. THe law in the UK says people over the age of 14 can drink wine or perry with a meal with their parents permission. As far as i know this still stands but pubs no longer acknowledge it due to the more stringent penalties.

    I think we'd have less of a "drinking problem" and binge drinking culture in the UK if people were brought up to drink sensibly, rather than using subterfuge then going OTT as soon as they're legal.

  2. I've made a similar point on my own blog. The penalties imposed on licensees for serving underage drinkers in this country are utterly disproportionate to the offence, and merely drive them to cheap vodka and the like.