Perhaps it’s about time to bust out that Malcolm Gladwell classic, Drinking Games:
The Camba had weekly benders with laboratory-proof alcohol, and, Dwight Heath said, “There was no social pathology—none. No arguments, no disputes, no sexual aggression, no verbal aggression. There was pleasant conversation or silence.” On the Brown University campus, a few blocks away, beer—which is to Camba rum approximately what a peashooter is to a bazooka—was known to reduce the student population to a raging hormonal frenzy on Friday nights. “The drinking didn’t interfere with work,” Heath went on. “It didn’t bring in the police. And there was no alcoholism, either.”
There is something about the cultural dimension of social problems that eludes us. When confronted with the rowdy youth in the bar, we are happy to raise his drinking age, to tax his beer, to punish him if he drives under the influence, and to push him into treatment if his habit becomes an addiction. But we are reluctant to provide him with a positive and constructive example of how to drink. The consequences of that failure are considerable, because, in the end, culture is a more powerful tool in dealing with drinking than medicine, economics, or the law.
I didn’t drink until I was 20. I started for exactly one reason: craft beer seemed more like food, which I gave a damn about. For a long time, I would only drink in delicately prescribed situations - ones where I could really appreciate how delicious the beer I was drinking really was. But as I moved to other places where craft beer bars weren’t as popular, where the main occasion for drinking wasn’t tasting, and where the people I knew had their own long-standing traditions around alcohol, I changed my patterns too.