Tuesday 1 December 2009

X-certificate drinking

An annoying feature you come across on an increasing number of beer and brewery websites is a requirement to either enter your age or confirm that you are of legal drinking age in your country of residence. I assume this originally began in the US, but it has now spread to this country, for example on the website of Wells & Youngs.

Obviously these controls are easily circumvented by anyone with half a brain, and so are no more than a futile sop to political correctness, but even so there is an underlying assumption that it is undesirable for anyone under the legal drinking age to find out anything about alcoholic drinks, because if they did they would immediately head out for a mammoth binge. Presumably we’re not meant to see any schoolchildren researching projects on the brewing industry, although that in itself would probably lead to howls of outrage from the Righteous.

In most countries the legal age to drive a motor vehicle is at least 16, yet I don’t see any of these age controls on automotive websites, and indeed they are probably an endless source of fascination to pre-pubescent boys. Nobody suggests that being able to view the Ford website is going to encourage a 14-year-old to go out on a joyriding spree. So why do we have to have these double standards when it comes to drink?

Isn’t it time that, at least on this side of the Atlantic, those running beer-related websites stopped treating all their readers like naughty children?


  1. Couldn't agree more, Curmudgeon. I'm certain you are correct in your assumption that this nonsense originated the other side of the pond, where they seem to have an almost puritanical approach towards the demon drink.
    Mind you, if the health fascists have their way over here we'll soon all be forced to carry our bottles of booze home from the off-licence in plain, brown paper bags! (and not allowed to touch a drop until we've reached the age of 21!).

  2. I suspect the 'age question' is dictated by the need to keep selling beer in the USA, as Wells & Young do. Legal bods driving this one I guess. It is irritating, particularly as it is an American-culture thing, but perhaps compared with much of human suffering small beer really.

  3. I suppose it could be said that the vast majority of topics discussed on beer blogs ars small beer in comparison with much of human suffering. But I don't regard the steady erosion of human freedom as a trivial subject, so I am happy to combat it in every small way I can :p

  4. It's sheer tokenism, rather like the 'Drink Aware' message in most booze adverts nowadays, and nothing more.

  5. Maybe they're claiming some sort of grant or 'good boy' bonus for joining in with the scheme..?

  6. Red Nev,

    It is tokenism, you are right.

    But it also imports the dangerous assumption that those advocating these courses of action are justified, thus fuelling their demands. So small health warnings lead to demands for large health warnings. Large health warnings lead to demands for advertising bans. Advertising bans lead to demands for sales restrictions. These are all voluntary at the start, but voluntary becomes compulsory.

    There can be no accommodation with temperance fanatics.

  7. It may very well be tokenism, but grog companies need to be seen to be responsible. A pint is within the financial means of youngsters, whereas a car will not be. Most grog websites are little more than web advertising, so to be seen to at least try to prevent access is to be able to refute a claim that you are targeting kids.

  8. Yes, it is tokenism, and it will mostly be cheerfully ignored or circumvented. But it is indicative of an "alcohol is evil" mindset that will slowly seep into the popular consciousness. As Brian suggests, it is the start of a slippery slope.

    It looks like we are shortly going to get mandatory health warnings on alcohol packages, telling us not to exceed 3-4 units per day and to abstain from alcohol entirely if pregnant or trying to conceive, despite the fact that there is no scientific basis for either of these propositions.

    And, Cookie, kids can easily nick cars, which is the equivalent of illegally obtaining alcohol from the offie when underage.


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