In London and in other big cities around the United Kingdom there are many stylish bars in 'English pub style': they usually have a long wooden counter, a carpet with a vintage pattern or creaky wooden planks, a wide range of craft beers on tap and a real fireplace turned on to make the environment welcoming and cosy.
Beer is the protagonist
Tourists and expats alike love the English ‘pub culture’ so much because it is exactly what they expect when they look for a place to have a beer in this country.
At some of these pubs, on some nights, there is also the possibility to sing karaoke and after a few drinks even the shiest person in the pub starts singing along.
Most office workers go get a beer at a pub after work to socialize with colleagues and the pubs are as crowded as they can be at around six o’clock when everyone has just left the office.
Many English people proudly consider the ‘drinking culture’ as part of their national identity and cherish the tradition of ‘after work drinking.’
It is true that the cosy and relaxed atmosphere of a typical English pub is envied around the world and there have been numerous attempts to imitate this convivial ambience and, obviously, alcohol consumption is not exclusively a British phenomenon.
However, there is one aspect of the drinking culture in the United Kingdom that is generally not present in other countries around Europe.
This aspect is a particular urgency to drink a lot and to order more than just a drink per person at every round.
Since I’m a supporter of healthy foods, I often read health magazines and I have recently read that a study conducted by the English Public Healthcare Organization warned that the increase in consumption of alcoholic beverages is leading to liver diseases otherwise decreasing in the rest of Europe, while another study conducted last year at the University College London on the actual consumption of alcohol in England has discovered the existence of a substantial difference between the amount of alcohol sold and the amount people admit to drink.
The researchers found out that most people underestimated the amount of alcohol they actually drink.
Binge-drinking (drinking much more than the two recommended daily units of alcohol) is a habit many people have especially when they are young.
Most youngsters’ events typically involve binge-drinking: from wine and cheese tastings to pub crawls (hopping from pub to pub on a given night), getting drunk seems to be the main goal of drinking, and not just a possible negative consequence.
There are in fact several practices that serve to reach the state of intoxication quickly, such as drinking before going out, drinking games, and the use of gadgets that facilitate the rapid intake of alcohol.
But every excess is usually accompanied by its opposite: the laws regulating the sale, purchase and consumption of alcohol in the United Kingdom are often severe at the limit of the absurd.
While the decision to prohibit the sale of alcohol at very low prices in England and Wales might perhaps succeed in limiting consumption, other norms seem to serve the purpose of showing that the government takes the initiative to resolve the issue rather than solving the issue itself.
In the United Kingdom, alcohol can only be sold at certain times of the day (unless a store has a special license) although it is not clear how this regulation can discourage consumption.
It was necessary to reach the first decades of the twentieth century to witness the introduction of new laws aimed at reducing or abolishing the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Also, some recent campaigns have tried to limit alcohol abuse and, last year, the so-called ‘Sober October’ campaign encouraged British people to go booze-free for the thirty-one days of the month of October with the purpose of raising funds for Cancer Support.
This campaign was an opportunity to raise reflections on the consumption of alcohol in the United Kingdom.
After all, drinking is considered something so normal that not drinking has become an act of heroism, as demonstrated by the aforementioned campaign.
The participants were indeed called ‘sober heroes’ and were told that they were doing ‘an excellent gesture.’
Beer on tap at the pub