Why I Drink Less in a Country of Drinkers

March 28, 2011

in drinking, night life

Australia is a country of fun-loving beer-guzzlers.

The people are chill, the ale even chillier, and everyone makes a good time as much of a priority as working hard. You see people at the pubs at noon on a weekday, “beer o’clock” happens each Friday at corporate offices and much of the social atmosphere is built not only around, but upon,  always having a drink in hand.

Which is why it’s funny that since I got here, my drinking has decreased dramatically.

Unless it’s a special occasion, like the party I threw for St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks ago, I limit myself to two drinks — maybe three if I feel like it. This why the ever-common day drinking rarely appeals to me. Anyone who’s lived or visited here for any length of time knows that this is almost like desecrating the Australian flag. Aussies love to buy other people beer, they like to spend hours with you while you drink it and they think something’s wrong if you’re sitting at the bar with a glass of water during any point in the day/night.

I still like alcohol and some liquor — a nice glass of New Zealand sauv blanc or Bailey’s is often the perfect way to wind down the day. But I’m just kinda over all this drinking in excess and all the time. Here’s why:

I’ve been drinking half my life: Call it a wild streak or adolescence at the Jersey Shore, but I started drinking at 15. I didn’t drink all the time, but I drank enough. My parents didn’t sanction this, but I always knew kids who could get beer, some of them my friends’ older siblings. Point is, you get a little tired of drinking at a fast pace when you’ve been doing it a long time.

I have alcoholism in my family: It’s not rampant, but a propensity to get drunk and act like a belligerent fool courses through my bloodline. I am very aware that when that kind of addiction runs in your family, you have to be mindful of your behavior with said vice. Sadly, I also know from experience that I can fall into the “belligerent” drunk category rather than the “happy” one. All the more reason to drink super-moderately.

I’m fitter now: In college, I drank like a champ. Going to a frat party at 10 p.m.? Let’s start doing vodka shots at 9:30 p.m. And I wouldn’t even get sick. This is because I had gained the freshman/sophomore 30 and maintained a diet of mostly carbs. Of course I was able to pound a six-pack of Natty Ice, no problem. Now that I”m actually  a normal weight and try to eat right and exercise, my body can’t handle that poison at that speed in that quantity.

I don’t like the beer in Australia: I know some people will want to smack me for this one, but the beer here just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t taste good, it’s too expensive and I often feel gross and headachy after I drink it. I was a craft and local beer drinker back in Pennsylvania, and I feel like the options here are too few and severely lacking in quality.

How have your drinking habits changed as you’ve gotten older, traveled or moved into a different stage of life?

31 Comments - Add Yours!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks for the comment, dude. People hate it when I say Aussie beer pales in comparison to what we have back home, but it does. I miss beer in Philly so bad.

      Reply
  1. Hannah DeMilta

    I’ve started drinking more since moving here. Not sure if it’s positive or negative but I think there are a few contributing factors. a) As you explained, the culture here caters to it. We drink a lot for holidays and celebrations and there is a lot to celebrate sometimes. Drinking is part of the work culture here and grabbing drinks after work is common. b) I moved to Sydney not knowing anyone and drinking socially is an easy way to meet people. I’m definitely not saying drinking is the only way to make friends, but it’s a quick win if you’re looking to get out of the house. c) I don’t drive. This might seem silly, but it’s so true. I can have a few more drinks here and never have to worry about driving. It’s a bonus of public transport.

    Nice post, cheers Lauren!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Great comment, Hannah! Thanks for weighing in. I think all the points you bring up are great, esp. the one about drinking being a good way to meet people in a foreign country where you don’t know anyone.

      Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Aww, so adorable from the person turning 32 this weekend! Don’t be jealous I’m still in my 20s — what, what!

      Reply
  2. Candice

    Funny, I’ve been using the “I’m too old” excuse lately to blame on my sudden inability to handle my liquor, but maybe it’s just because I spend twice as much time in the gym now. Yeah, we’ll go with that.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Candice, I was thinking of your latest post when I wrote this and was like “That was me, a few years back.” Glad you’ve solved the mystery of your lower tolerance!

      Reply
  3. Torre (@fearfulgirl)

    I’m sorry that Australia seems to be putting so much peer pressure on you to drink beer, that you feel the need to justify yourself. Your reasons are valid, and no Aussie will judge you. If they do, they’re most likely a bogan and you should steer clear anyway 🙂 An Aussie’s capacity for beer intake is alarming—I can’t keep up either. BTW I drink imported beer and boutique beers, like White Rabbit made by Little Creatures. VB, Fosters and Carlton are terrible, but not as bad as Coors or Bud.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks for your comment. It’s not so much of a justification as a list of why I’ve personally stopped drinking a lot and that it’s funny it happened in a place where so many people drink so much. If I had come here five or 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have heard many complaints. Not a fan of Coors or Bud, either, not since I was a novice beer drinker, at least. Little Creatures is OK, but no match for Sam Adams and some of the great local brews I drank back home, like Victory.

      Reply
  4. Kieron

    Nothing wrong with cutting back the intake a little bit! The two of us aren’t big drinkers, much to the disgust of many of our friends haha…

    And like Torre, stick with the imported/boutique beer. My first choices at the bottle shop are always Asahi, Heineken or Tiger!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks, Kieron! You like your Asian brews, I see. It’s a good day when i find some Hoegaarden or, better yet, Sam Adams, though both are way overpriced in these parts.

      Reply
  5. Champ Kind (San Diego)

    Lance is right, I think you need to let Brendan and him do the real drinking…

    As for VB, Fosters and Carlton being better then Coors or Bud?

    Puh lease caucasian australian…they all blow.

    Reply
  6. Ray (Bruges)

    As someone who’s been to Australia, I think Hannah is probably the most accurate, as drinking is more prevalent here and driving isn’t as mandatory…

    Here’s to a hahn super dry!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks for the comment. I guess the non-driving aspect is a big factor I didn’t think about so much before both your comments. People will have a few drinks and drive in the states, but you can’t get hammered and drive with our BAC laws.

      Reply
  7. MissNeriss

    “Aussies love to buy other people beer, they like to spend hours with you while you drink it and they think something’s wrong if you’re sitting at the bar with a glass of water during any point in the day/night.”

    Have you been out drinking with my brother?! I have never lived in Sydney, but the drinking culture is so stong in rural Australia that it’s virtually impossible to be a moderate drinker. I also identify with your dislike for Australian beer too. When I was younger I was fiercely proud of our beer (although I wouldn’t touch VB with a ten foot pole), but now I’ve left I don’t have the same love. When I return, I find myself drinking the posh beers. And you’re right – alcohol in Australia is ridiculously expensive. I nearly fell off my bar stool in my last trip when handing over the cash for my round!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Haha, I I don’t think I’ve been drinking with your brother, but thanks for sharing your similar sentiment! I originally had this post titled “City of Drinkers,” b/c I haven’t been to rural Oz. I guess it is country-wide, though.

      Reply
  8. Meg B

    Lauren,
    No one needs to poison themselves with Natty Ice after college. Being pregnant, I too don’t drink anymore. 🙂
    When you come back for another visit we should hit up the grey lodge for a really good beer.
    🙂
    My favorite = allagash white

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Megs, I LOVE the Grey Lodge. I even put in a local’s guide to Philly I did for another travel site. I remember them having a blueberry beer there years ago that I loved, but then I got allergic to blueberries. We will definitely go there when I’m back and you are no longer with child 🙂

      Reply
  9. Caz Makepeace

    Craig and I were just talking yesterday how we can’t really enjoy Australain beer anymore. It tastes funny to us. We really miss our micro brewery beers that we would find everywhere in the States, and we miss guinness and Kilkenny from Ireland. Now that is good beer.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Ahh, Caz, you’re a woman after my own heart! Should we open up our own micro brewery here???

      Reply
  10. jimmy

    ms fritsky, may i also suggest that the reason you are drinking less is because you are madly in love, and perhaps thinking about settling down with brendan. no self-respecting man wants to hang forever with a woman who drinks more than he does. here’s to your health!

    Reply
  11. Lindsay

    I found this to be an interesting blog post, because I feel incredibly similar to what you are describing now that we have lived in Puerto Rico for the past two years. The culture here is to drink basically all the time, even at our in-school staff meetings! (we are teachers) I love a good time, but for some reason this has definitely made me tend to drink less also. Or maybe I am just getting older. =)

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Hey, thanks for the comment. Beer in the office is one thing, but at school seems a little inappropriate. I had no idea the culture was very drink-heavy there. Good luck staying sober!

      Reply
  12. Jeremy

    I feel you, Lauren! I spent a year in Australia and, despite being completely over the drink-like-wild-go-to-frat-parties-and-pound-shots phase of my life, I couldn’t *not* drink. It’s so much a part of the culture there. Didn’t help that I was trying to save money, as well. I’m pretty much on the same page as you with all this…maybe it’s an American thing 😉

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Cheers for the comment, Jeremy! I like your description, too, of the frat party and pound shots vibe. I kept denying drinks Saturday night and felt like a leper.

      Reply
  13. Dennis D

    I expected Gainesville to be full of places offering nothing but yellow swill. Not just because it’s a college town, but because it’s Florida. Blessing or curse, there are plenty of craft beer places here. More per square mile than Philly, I dare say. Of couse, that’s made it harder to get in shape or save money! I could see how crappy beer would temper ones appetite for the hooch.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      No way! I would never think that about Gainesville. I’ve actually gone on a dry kick lately — we’ll see what this does for my booze appetite.

      Reply
  14. Jeremy Branham

    Wow, you were one big party girl! 🙂 I am like you – I don’t drink much but for different reasons. I didn’t grow up around it, have never been drunk, and just don’t like the taste of beer. I can still have fun without the alcohol though and I admit I do like wine (but don’t drink that very often as well!)

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      And now I call myself “the nana,” haha. I give you props for not needing it to have fun. I think it becomes such a give in for people, and for myself, I’ve liked discovering that I can also have a good night out drinking moderately or not at all.

      Reply

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