Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday 12 April 2010

Beer, glorious beer

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Spare a thought for the striking Carlsberg workers deprived by a heartless management of a constant supply of free beer.

For over 160 years, workers at Carlsberg's Danish breweries have enjoyed the right to drink beer throughout the day. When the company began in 1847, the local water was not fit to drink, so it made sense to allow the workforce to refresh themselves with the nearest liquid to hand.

(Understandable, really - this was 7 years before John Snow finally convinced the world that polluted drinking water was behind outbreaks of cholera in London and that wells and cess-pits do not good neighbours make.)

What is interesting in the case is that, despite all the Europe-wide public initiatives against the evils of alcohol and its detrimental effects on health, these merry Danes have continued chugging extra strength lager on a daily basis at the company's expense. Even the delivery drivers get three bottles a day (unaffected by the change) - although their ignition keys are linked to a breathalyser.

And the ubiquity of the product suggests that production hasn't suffered. After all, they are merely continuing a time-honoured tradition of refreshment; from the cider-fuelled Somerset farm labourers to the French workman's morning coffee and calvados, alcohol in moderation has featured in the working man's diet for centuries.

In fact, the workers will still be given free beer on tap, but only in the canteen at lunchtime - at other times they must restrict themselves to the soft drinks and water still available on the factory floor. Even the unions have the wit to see that they are on shaky ground here, arguing that it's really a matter of principle: "There was no dialogue over the issue at all, and that is just not good enough."

I believe the phrase is 'Nice work if you can get it'.


  1. Can you imagine the shrieking and wailing and rending of garments from the Righteous should a brewery decide to implement this policy here?

    It would be nothing short of awesome!

  2. JuliaM, I'd love to see it happen.

    As it is, regulation has gone too far, IMHO. Guided tours at our local brewery end with a tasting session featuring traditional local beers.

    As of this year, tasting is firmly restricted to those aged 18 and over.


Moderation is on as I’m having some technical difficulties with Comments