Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays - alcohol guide

Happy Holidays, folks! If you drink, please do so responsibly!

I once had a Baptist friend who indicated obliquely that her church's stance on alcohol - Baptists don't believe in it - played some role in her drinking rather heavily in college. As readers know, alcohol is also generally unavailable to Americans under 21. Some speculate that this helps set up a culture of binge drinking - alcohol is generally unavailable, so kids binge when they get any access to it, e.g. at parties.

The original intent of raising the drinking age was to reduce alcohol-induced accidents. Proponents still believe there's no evidence that decreasing the drinking age reduces binge drinking and that the evidence that a higher drinking age reduces accidents is solid.

I haven't assessed either body of evidence yet. However, I frown upon religions that prohibit alcohol. As Ben Franklin allegedly said, beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. One can make similar comments about wine or liquor. I don't believe that complete abstention in today's social context is necessary unless one has alcoholism. However, it goes without saying that one cannot drink in a manner that endangers others.

So, for the holidays, CNN Money offers a smart buyer's guide to spirits. I imagine most of the listed brands are available in most metropolitan areas worldwide.

I don't typically drink spirits. However, my priest, a Southerner, recommends Knob Creek bourbon, which is made by a small brewer. It's a little more expensive.

As for beer, Beer Advocate is a guide to US and Canadian beer. The good stuff, not Bud. Two of my favorite brewers are Bells Beer, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Unibroue, based in Quebec. Here's to Quebecois separatism! Bells is thought to have started a bit of a microbrewing craze in Michigan. Their beer is sold in a number of neighboring states. Rumors have it that the owner is hard to get along with, and Bells certainly doesn't exhibit at the biennial Michigan Beerfest.

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