Be Aware that Beer is Alcohol Too

by: Mike Miller

Frequently when I'm teaching an alcohol class, I get comments from students like, "I only drink beer. How can I been an alcoholic?" or "Beer isn't as bad as hard liquor. This blog post will hopefully remove these myths from your mind. You definitely can have a drinking problem or be an alcoholic if you drink just beer

Beer Has A Long History

Beer is perhaps the world's oldest of alcoholic beverages. Some of the stories of its consumption are pretty amazing. Like the fact that Medieval monks drank over 5 quarts (the equivalent of a 12 pack) of beer every single day. Of course for them, part of the reason they drank it is for its nutritional value (sure!).

Let's Look at the numbers

Beer legally is 6-12 proof (which means is contains between 3 and 6% alcohol).  This is quite a bit lower than the a distilled liquor or spirit like gin or tequilla. But just because it's lower doesn't mean it doesn't qualify as an alcoholic beverage. Beer IS an alcoholic beverage.

How much beer do people drink? Obviously some countries are heavier beer drinkers than others. The consensus is that Ireland is the world’s biggest beer drinking country were they drink on average 41 gallons per person per year. German is also a big beer drinker at 31.5 gallons per person. By comparison the United States is a relatively small consumer of beer at 22.5 gallons per person. But remember we're talking about just beer. This doesn't include wine and other spirits.

Russia Finally Concedes that Beer is Alcohol

Russia has a repuation for heavy drinking and the alcohol of choice for them has always been vodka. Beer, on the other hand was never considered an alcoholic beverage. What did this mean? It meant that beer in Russia was treated the same as any non-alcohlic beverage like soft drinks, coffee or even water. 

This meant that anybody could buy as much beer as they want as at any time they wanted. You would commonly find workmen drinking beer on their way to their jobs or teenagers hanging out at the park during chugging beers during their lunch. Many Russians consider beer as another kind of a soft drink like Coca Cola or 7-Up.  You might not be surprised that the consumption of beer has increased almost 15 times in the last 15 years.

Finally, in Februrary 2011, a law was passed by the Russian Parliament to change the classification of beer from a "food" to an "alcoholi beverage" (which clearly it is).

Basketball Player Chris Mullin Knows Beer is Alcohol

Perhaps you don't recognize the name Chris Mullin. He was a well regarded college basketball player at St. John’s University, a member of the 1992 Olympic Basketball Team, and subsequently a NBA All-Star with the Golden State Warriors before his career was basically halted by his drinking problems. What did he drink? Beer.  Chris Mullin said that he used to drink more than a case of beer in per day. Sometimes he would split a case (that's 12 beers for himself) with his brother and then later play professional basketball that night. Did he think he was a medevial monk?

Mullin did finally become sober in 1987 and in the end was able to overcome his addiction issues with the help of alcohol awareness classes and Alcoholics Anonymous

Despite its legal status, it is important to understand that alcohol is a drug and its use must be controlled.  If you or anyone you know may be suffering from alcohol dependence, please have them seek help immediately.  There are online options to take voluntary and involuntary courses on alcohol rehabilitation.