Alcohol and beverages, in general, are a big part of a countries culture and over the years this has led to the rise of so-called "drinking culture" this is usually phrased in a negative light to show the dangers of consuming too much alcohol. But the term its-self can also be used to describe a countries drinking habits in general.
Binge-drinking culture, for example, seemed like it was once prevalent in the UK and according to some reports it might still seem like it is a big issue on some places. But while I am not disregarding the fact that in certain area issues like binge drinking are still prevalent when you look at the UK as a whole our drinking culture is actually not what many people would expect.
Every country will have stereotypes that are basically ingrained in many people in regards to their drinking culture. Russia and vodka for example sometimes these stereotypes based around drinking culture don’t always relate to alcohol either look at the UK and tea for example.
But the UK does have a reputation for enjoying a drink in particular beer and the UK’s drinking culture does also have a reputation in regard to pubs as well, UK pubs are often highlighted as social hubs and friendly places for people to rest and relax.
However, that is only one part of British drinking culture and many other areas perceive how people feel and view the British drinking culture. Lad and to a lesser extent ladette culture puts a stronger emphasis on drinking. In fact, many groups that have adopted areas of lad culture or laddish behaviour usually only primarily focus on the drinking area of it.
While lad culture isn’t solely prevalent in working-class communities it is more popularised in them. However, despite this drinking culture in the middle classes could be more prevalent as data from the Office for National Statistics showed that people earning over £40,000 a year were more likely to drink alcohol in the average week compared to people in the working class.
Drinking culture in the UK is also affected by the North/ South divide with figures showing binge drinking was more common in deprived areas of the North and less common in the south of the country. Really what this tells us is that drinking culture in the UK is incredibly diverse and there are many different factors at play.
It might seem like everyone drinks some form of alcohol especially in younger groups of people. Student groups in the UK often seem to but a strong emphasis on drinking but it might surprise you to learn that data suggests that as much as 25% of 16 – 24 year olds reported that they don’t drink.
The Rise of The Healthy Drinking Culture
British drinking culture can appear from the outside to have a pretty bad reputation however things are changing and this is being noticed. Research for Drink Aware found that 20% of adults aged 16 and over said that they do not drink alcohol at all and many described themselves as a non-drinker.
Research from the same group also found that non-drinkers were at their highest in the 16-24 age group and the over 75's. Younger people were also found to be at the lower end of the risk of drinking too much. Younger adults also seem to be less likely to actually want to go to traditional drinking establishments like pubs as well.
The decline of traditional pubs in the UK is well known with the BBC reporting that an average of 18 pubs close a week in the UK. The cost is believed to be one of the big indicators for this but it can’t be denied that alcohol isn't seen as important by many younger people in the UK.
Drinking alcohol was once seen as a rite of passage into adulthood but many young people don’t place a great emphasis on it these days. The rise in popularity of alcohol-free drinks alongside the decline of pubs and alcohol in general also sheds some light on how drinking culture in the UK is changing.
Alcohol-free drinks where once quite the rarity but they have seen huge rises over the last few years. Big name manufacturers are also seeing the boom in popularity and manufacturing their own alcohol-free beverages as well.
Drinking culture in the UK is definitely changing and the evidence, especially in people classed as millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996), shows that this is a growing trend. As a society, we are more focused on being healthy and active nowadays and the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption are more well-known.
Yes, beer is still likely the most popular drink in the UK but for how much longer? The importance of alcohol on a cultural level especially amongst younger age groups is changing and many people simply prefer a sober lifestyle. With the increasing popularity of alcohol-free drinks, we could be seeing the beginning of a big shift in the UK's drinking culture.