As the government gears up for another round of alcohol reform that will almost definitely see minimum pricing, 24-hour licensing and – interestingly – increased taxes on high ABV drinks come under the scrutiny of Westminster and Holyrood, it's no wonder that alcohol's been taking it on the chin in terms of press coverage.
Costing the NHS £110.5 million each year and the traditional scourge of the nation, alcohol hasn't failed to hit the headlines and those North of the border haven't gotten away scot-free either with Scottish drinkers reported to consume 25% more booze than other Brits.
The see-saw nature of alcohol reform in Scotland is nothing new but as the discussion shows little sign of abating the question begs: is alcohol legislation creating invisible boundaries that only serve to quash creativity and innovation that could help curb the unsavoury drinking habits of the minority?
In BrewDog's case, rules and conventionality have served as a raison d'etre for the brewery and a catalyst for change; creating strong ABV beer that alter the way in which people consume beer being one example. Taxes, industry small print and what is deemed 'acceptable' is undoubtedly off putting to other brewers which has inevitably led to swathes of middle market brews.
Surely an environment where more brewers feel they have the opportunity to experiment and explore beer without putting their neck on the line or risk a dent to their finances and image is something worth aiming for?
Instead, years of alcohol awareness campaigns, NHS incentives and education drives have done little to deplete figures on alcohol misuse yet helped create an atmosphere of hypersensitivity.
Alcohol legislation and tax reform is an invisible yet highly influential force on the horizons and potential of Scottish brewers and, in turn, the number of options and experiences available to Scottish drinkers.
If the drinking habits of the UK are to change, people have to be given a choice and an alternative to what already exists. To do so more brewers need to be given the space and encouragement to invent and create without the threat of being branded as 'irresponsible' whenever new ground is broken.
The government is now in the process of calling on the opinions of those in the industry and beyond to voice their views before decisions on alcohol reform are set in stone. We want to hear your opinions here.
Posted in - news
- I don;t understand why I have to pay more for my already expensive beers that I enjoy taking my time over and tasting in the privacy of my own because some cunt in a park keeps getting smashed on cheap cider and screaming abuse at people.
To be fair I have asked Dad to stop all that but what else is there to do when you're retired?Chris08.08.2010
- Why don't they just go for full out prohibition? Free markets my arse. Will08.08.2010
- The big 'whigs' that make decisions in the alcohol industries tend not to consume alcohol or fun! They are obviously by passing the reason why alcoholics have a problem and the social conditions they live in -but enough of that.
We proletariat obviously arent educated enough to make decisions on day to day things like 'shall i have another beer?' or 'is it wrong to spend my last money on beer and go without food?'. Thank God the government is going to simplify our choices and make it easier for me to sleep at night!!
God Bless the Government!!!Nicole07.08.2010
- I dont see why reform should harm your creativity or levels of innovation as brewers. It seems to me that any criticism, derision or legislation you have faced so far has only stoked your creative fires. But I agree with Don, price and availability are such blunt instruments with which to bring about the societal change required to begin solving Scotland's substance abuse problems. The futility of drug prohibition is a case in point. martin06.08.2010
- As someone has stated elsewhere, the only thing minimum pricing will achieve is a better class of alcoholic! The problem, as with drugs, has never been a question of supply so much as demand. Rather than spending a small fortune on prohibition and legal entanglements, the issue would be better addressed through education and, most importantly, improved social conditions. Those with jobs that provide a decent standard of living, who have prospects and the hope of progressing through life are far less likely to abuse alcohol. Making "White Lightning" twice as expensive is not going to help prevent or alleviate such abuse among those who, frankly, have nothing better to hope for in life. If some additional tax is to be enforced either at the counter or direct to the manufacturers of alcohol, it should at least be spent of education, rehabilitation and the reduction of poverty. Treat the cause, not the symptom.