Monday, May 23, 2005

Lew Bryson Reports on His Trip to the Czech Republic

Original Budweiser, from Budweis.

But, best of all, they treat drinkers like grown-ups over there.
This whole "cheap beer, no drunks" thing pretty much knocks the neo-prohibitionist's precious idea of raising taxes to stop underage drinking into a cocked hat, but again, that's not really what I wanted to talk about. What I want to talk about is how the Czechs absolutely, no doubts, more-so than even the Germans, get it. This is a beer culture in that beer has totally permeated the culture. It's not about variety, God knows. The Czechs are almost as single-minded about beer as the Irish used to be. There's the light lager, which comes in 10° and 12° strengths, and there's dark lager. And that's just about it. There are some very small breweries making other beers, and some of them are delicious, but the aforementioned three beer types are probably 98.5% of the beer consumed in the Republic, and not much of that is dark lager.

Okay, so it's not the variety we beer punks would like to see. But it's accepted, without a second thought. I don't know how many times I've said it about booze laws, about American attitudes about beer and drinking: I just want to be treated like an adult. Treat me like an adult and I'll act like one. That's an old, old idea, after all: familiar with the expression "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? There are not a bunch of silly, restrictive laws in the Republic, there was not a bunch of anti-alcohol propaganda and nanny-state "alcohol units" horsecrap, and people handled their own lives quite well, while still drinking a lot of their excellent lager beer. It was, notably, the people who came into the country from outside who were the drunks, the people from the nanny-states! What the heck does that say?

It says to me that the booze laws that work best are those that restrict least. The only real booze laws in the Republic are about quality standards for the brewers and servers, and very strict drunk driving laws. Otherwise...not much being said. Oh, how refreshing.

It also says to me that in the absence of that kind of attitude, the brewers can act like adults too, and be proud of their products, a pride that in turn engenders pride in the people who drink them. Czechs are proud of their beer, and rightly so. It's not only good, it has a great world-wide reputation and is a strong source of export earnings for the country.

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