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Beer

Neil Miller

Opinion

23/04/2007





Yet another worthless series of Dancing with the Stars has started and sadly hundreds of thousands of mindless drones will be glued to the screen to see who is crowned New Zealand’s least worst amateur dancer.


As part of my personal struggle against the continual dilution of what passes for popular culture, this column is about some people we should actually admire – the legendary beer drinkers of the world!
By international standards New Zealanders are not big beer drinkers.
Our average consumption of 77 litres of beer a year puts us in 16th place on the world drinking table. In first place by a clear margin is the Czech Republic. They drink almost twice as much beer as we do.
Ireland is placed second, Germany third, while neighbours Australia are fourth. The city with the highest rate of consumption – at a staggering 230 litres per person (almost three times that of New Zealand) – is Darwin, Australia.
Verifiable facts about legendary drinking achievements are hard to find. The Guinness Book of Records – ironically invented to help end arguments in Irish pubs – has stopped including drinking and eating records for fear of litigation.
We do know that the unofficial world record for drinking a pint of Guinness is 3.9 seconds. It was achieved by Paul Behan of England at 8:30am on a live breakfast radio show. As befits a descendent of the hard-drinking writer Brendan Behan, Paul Behan set the record after having two pints to calm his nerves.
Closer to home, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a world beer drinking record of his own while on a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. Having committed the heinous offence of ‘coming to dinner without a gown’, Hawke had to drink two and half pints of ale out of a pewter pot in less than 25 seconds. He did it in 11 seconds.
In his memoirs Hawke wrote, ‘this feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved’.
For ‘relay drinking’ (where a person starts drinking only when the person before them has finished), the world record is again held by the ‘enthusiastic Czech patriots’ of Sumperk who downed 2,662 half-litres of beer in less than 17 hours – a rate of over 156 beers per hour.
Writing in the excellent Modern Drunkard Magazine, Richard English says the world record for the largest number of beers consumed in a single sitting was set by the late, great Andre the Giant.
A professional wrestler who stood over seven feet tall and loved alcohol, Andre once drank 119 bottles of beer in six hours. He passed out in the hallway of a hotel so his friends stole a piano cover from the lounge and draped it over Andre’s inert form. He slept peacefully until morning. Apparently he must have looked like a piano.
Rich says, “That’s a beer every three minutes, non stop. That’s beyond epic. It’s beyond the ken of mortal men. It’s god-like”.
He truly was the eighth wonder of the world.