Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Roll Out the Barrel, Ruskies!

Not so unusual, even in Russia

"Back in the day" when I turned 18 and was old enough to legally drink beer, it was something of a watered-down version: 3.2% least in Kansas where I did my consuming. It was not sold after midnight on Saturday until the liquor store opened on Monday morning (it was unavailable in grocery stores), bars remained closed on Sundays, and it was generally seen as a substance under control. I'm sure people drank it to excess, and I'm sure we had alcoholics...I just didn't know any.
My move to Wisconsin years later was an eye-opener (not the Bloody Mary kind): beer was 6% alcohol, bars were open on Sunday and catered to the after-church crowd, and it seemed as if the culture revolved somewhat around taverns. Quite different from my experience, but not so different from that of the Russian population, it seems.
Every movie I saw that featured Russian people showed them imbibing vast quantities of vodka, and I could never understand how anyone could drink that stuff...but Russians did, and it became something of a symbol for that country. I guess it's not surprising, then, that the consumption of alcohol by Russians has been noted as twice the critical level as determined by the World Health Organization. In other words, Russians don't do their livers much good. That's where beer was introduced as a get-healthy measure.
Thinking that beer would be better for people's bodies than vodka, the advertising agents (sponsored, no doubt, by the government) began touting beer as a healthy alternative to the life of a stumbling, mumbling alcoholic. But it appears that it's not so simple. For one thing, beer has a much higher alcohol content there than it does here, though still remaining under 10% alcohol content. The fact that anything under 10% in Russia is considered "food" triggered an all-out assault on the livers of drinkers everywhere. Beer sales are up by 40% while vodka sales have dropped by 30%, according a BBC report. Sale of beer is a 24/7/365 event, and has no restrictions on who can sell it. As a result, the beer gut is becoming a prominent part of Russian culture.
While the government is now trying to regulate the sale of beer during certain hours as well as restricting the advertising of beer, it's clear that the malty beverage has a solid foothold...sort of like Wisconsin, only MUCH bigger.


Post a Comment

<< Home