Opinion by Martin Cullip of The Taxpayers Protection Alliance for The Center Square
Friday, August 6, is the 15th annual International Beer Day. There is no better way to lift spirits after such a long period of stress, uncertainty, and disruption of daily lives across the world than enjoying a beer. Since its inception in 2007, the event has gone global and is now celebrated on the first Friday in August in at least 80 countries.
The premise is simple, being based on three aims: to gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer, to celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer, and to unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.
Celebrating those responsible for brewing and serving beer is straightforward and something most of us are very pleased to do at any time, let alone on a specified date. Of course, the pandemic has played havoc with our options for doing so in many countries in the past 18 months. But, as vaccines are rolled out across the world, venues in which to congregate with friends are now available in a vast majority of jurisdictions.
People will also be playing a part in supporting a beleaguered hospitality industry that has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. The Beer Institute reports that more than 568,000 American jobs have been lost as a result of pandemic restrictions in the U.S., mostly in hospitality. The same dismal story has been playing out in countries around the world, with bars, pubs and restaurants suffering badly during lockdowns, depending on incredibly costly state aid schemes to survive.
If you are reading this from Australia – seemingly the land of everlasting lockdowns – it may be more difficult to gather, but add some beer to your “essential” shopping and try to enjoy the day with whomever you are allowed to congregate domestically.
We can also raise a glass to celebrate the final lifting of an opportunistic and ultimately damaging series of bans on the sale of alcoholic drinks in South Africa, which caused businesses to close and the black market to boom. The restrictions finally ended in February of this year.
To celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer is critical. Patrons thirsty for a pint at their local establishment would be lost without the fine people who brew and serve beer. It may be true, to paraphrase Adam Smith, that it is not from the benevolence of the brewer that we expect our beer, but from their regard to their own interest, but how glad we are that they chose their particular profession to profit from.
Economically, it is also an important industry to celebrate. Latest survey figures estimate that the U.S. beer industry contributes more than $330 billion to the American economy. In fact, 210,000 Americans are directly employed brewing and distributing beer. And, for each of those jobs, another 30 jobs are subsequently generated in agriculture, retail, bars, restaurants and the supply chain.
It is also important to celebrate the industry’s potential benefit to a person’s health. Since the 1990s, research has consistently shown that the mortality risk of moderate drinking is lower than that of people who do not drink at all. The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 26,000 deaths a year are prevented by moderate alcohol consumption thanks to reduced risk from heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Uniting the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day may be the biggest benefit. It’s widely known that the ancient Egyptians were brewing beer thousands of years ago and its history dates to around 5000 BC. As a result, civilizations around the world have developed their own regionalized and individual beers from the same basic formula.
Now, thanks to globalization of industry and free markets, a person can sample beers from around the world just by visiting your local supermarket. Here in the UK, our local “bitters” and pale ales sit alongside brews from Poland, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, the U.S., Australia and Turkey, to name but a few. In the U.S., The Brewers Association estimate that around 20% of beer sold to Americans is imported from elsewhere.
So, on Friday – what better day than a Friday – let’s celebrate beer in all its forms. Salud, Santé, Sláinte, Sei gesund, Bottoms up, and Cheers to beer for its positive impact on our social lives, the economy, our wellbeing, and its enduring 7000-year history.
Martin Cullip is International Fellow at The Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center.
The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.