Friday, 21 May 2010

I was absolutely wasted...

Here’s a question for everyone and it’s inspired by something Andy wrote in a post earlier this week. He said: “to put it bluntly I was bolloxed.” It’s not surprising given the list of beers he was drinking during the day, but the question is this: from a writer’s and a reader’s perspective, should we talk about being drunk in blogs?

Traditional beer journalism has worked hard to make beer a serious beverage up there with wine and whisky, breaking away from the binge-drinking statistics, so by getting completely hammered and then telling everyone about it, are we in fact doing more harm to beer than good? Or, is that just a side of beer drinking which now gets a chance to be written about honestly thanks to the diary format of beer blogs?

What do you think: is it good to read about someone being drunk (so long as they aren’t throwing up on trains and pissing in bins) or does it do a disservice to beer? What about discussing a raging hangover? A part of drinking we should talk about or not?

I also ask because I’ve mentioned it in a piece I’ve written for CAMRA’s Beer magazine and wonder what others think. I got the image from here.


  1. My feeling is that it's fine. In fact, it should almost be encouraged!

    We all know that beer gets you drunk and most people drink it to GET drunk. I don't see why we need to ignore it or sugar-coat it. Plus, blogs are different to newspaper articles. A blog is like a diary and anyone can write whatever they want in it. Of course, this only counts if they don't act like a dick when they're drunk and they don't do anything stupid, but a little bit of stumbling around and silliness is fine by me.

    The same can be said for swearing in blogs, I think.

  2. I think talking about drunkenness - which in the company of good friends and not taken to the loss-of-control extremes can be a very pleasant experience after all - is absolutely fine. If it leads to funny, interesting or just plain weird experiences that might be entertaining to share, then all the better.

    On the other hand, drinking just to get drunk and then revelling in being drunk just for the sake of yelling about how off your head you are and making an arse of yourself, just seems a bit... crap. It's the latter version that grabs all the Daily Mail headlines, of course.

  3. I agree with Darren!

    I have friends who wont drink unless they are getting drunk, they only drink to get drunk and dont care what they drink....for me this isn't good!

    I got bolloxed on sunday as a by product of enjoying what i was tasting, most drinks were consumed in 1/2 pints or less which is my new serving of choice since i got a bit older and wiser.

  4. Yep, I think there's a considerable difference between drinking for the purposes of getting totally shit-faced, or getting drunk as a happy side-effect of doing something you enjoy (tasting the beer, company of friends, sociable environment, light buzz, being a geek, whatever).

    And once you get to that stage where it's all rather pleasant, and yeah, you're swaying and talking shite a bit, that's also fine (as long as I can navigate my way to a bus/train and actually get on the right one and not fall asleep and end up in Hamburg red light district - no, that has not happened!). As Darren says above, if it gets to a stage where it becomes a bragging thing, and basically being an arsehole it's stupid. I have to say, I don't really like getting hammered, but I'm happy to reach and maintain a certain equilibrium just before the staggering and leaning-against-the-toilet-wall-while-pissing-in-a-urinal stage :D

    Swearing is of course perfectly acceptable, ye cunt.

  5. Admitting that you have had too much is not an issue on a blog, especially in the first scenero given above.

    At a beer festival or at a pub with a large selection of beers I will probably try a lot of different beers but at the end of it I will totter off home in that rosy alcoholic glow but I won't be screaming abuse at folks or throwing up in the street.

    There is a world of difference in drunk and screaming drunk after all.

  6. Yes, the why is important, and that never seems to matter to the meejah.

    I like the gentle buzz that ensues after a nice afternoon sampling whatever takes my fancy, and I enjoy the (rare, these days) shared experience of sticking one on with mates.

    However, if anybody bothered to ask what people are bingeing on, I bet they'd find substantial numbers of people (particularly women) are doing it on wine or non-beer drinks. Beer is the shorthand used to 'tut tut' at the working classes at play...

  7. Yeah the beauty of a blog is that you can write it when, where and how you like. As you say, it's comparable to a diary and for that reason I think theres absolutley no reason to pretend drunkeness doesn't exist.

    As people have said, there's a clear divide in the way people get drunk. I actually dislike being drunk and only get into that position as a by product of wanting to drink beer ... for other, drinking beer is a by product of wanting to get drunk.

  8. What about a bitch of a hangover? Is that ok?

    If you did get really drunk, would you blog about it? Would you find it interesting to read someone else blog about it?

    I'm trying to think of examples but the only ones I have are a couple of years old now (uni stories of drunkenness, of course). Maybe it's a yoof thing that we grow out of, in the main. Drinking to get drunk is very much a young thing to do, as we get older that's just the end result of socialising with a beer in hand.

  9. Personally I feel it depends on the blog. There are millions of online diaries, which are just that. If you push to be a voice in an industry (of any kind) or somehow have become highly listed and an ambassador for that subject then I think talk of getting drunk should be followed up by some sort of disclaimer that doesn't glamorise it in any way.

    After all, unless you restrict your blog to only 18 and above you could be influencing young minds and I think this may become a future issue (just as other countries are blocking YouTube and Facebook).

    Blogger seems to be a popular platform in the beer blog world and has a 'Report Abuse' button on the toolbar. You can specifically categorise your content as 'Adult Content' with Blogger and a Content Warning page will appear before readers can enter your blog.

    As for swearing, I think some words should be avoided, especially because blogs like Pencil and Spoon get syndicated and displayed all over the web and the swear words in title posts have prominent place on those pages.


  10. I don't see any problema with writing about getting drunk. It's something that will happen. And as many have mentioned above, one thing is getting trolleyed for the sake of it, another thing is the restult of loosing a bit of control when you are having a good time.

    And about a bitch of a hangover? It should be reported, definetely be reported! Just to show getting pissed has its consequences.

  11. is bolloxed swearing??? its my new favourite word!

  12. I think Rich and Chunk summed up my thoughts on it. If it's a personal blog and you're happy that for years to come, in whatever places your blog is read, people will be reading about you getting drunk and having hangovers, then no problem. But if you are writing for an audience (rather than primarily for yourself) and want to be or are becoming a 'voice in the industry' then it may be doing the cause of good beer a disservice, and your own reputation one as well. To me it feels like good beer, and the beer writer themselves, would be taken less seriously if they haven't found the line between maintaining a "pleasanty inebriated but still functioning and not a problem to themselves or others" and "being drunk".

    I don't want to get drunk, just to enjoy many good beers while I pace myself - my overall principle is that I want to be enjoying hoppy goodness and stouty richness until I die, not burn out early on a few pints too many!

  13. "...a disservice to beer..."?

    I have no idea what this means. What I take from the disassociation of drinking from , you know, the obligatory effects of drinking is that if it is discussed somewhere a consultant loses out. Forget the distinction between being barfingly blotto and merrily drunk, you would think that most drinks at "-2%" they way they are described by beer writers. Given that few beer writers are not otherwise involved in the trade's cash box (or positioning to be) why would they not create and adhere to taboos of those realities that make brewery accountants in ill fitting suits uncomfortable?

  14. It's a tricky question, isn't it?

    I've had a commercial (i.e. paid journalism) piece returned and was asked to remove references to people being roaringly drunk at a trade event, which I did. And I've been on a couple of wine-related press trips where people got drunk, but don't feel the need to write about it.

    I guess we are all still aware of the point of view of wine being inferior to beer - of course, we know that to be nonsense, but it exists. I tackle it by trying never to write about beer in the context of wine. Beer is beer, and is worthy of talking and writing about seriously. Just because the majority of wine consumed in the UK is bought on a 3 for 2 at the supermarket doesn't mean that we shouldn't have wine writers or bloggers. Ditto beer.

    I'm not sure that I blog much about getting drunk, as it's just a given part of drinking - if you drink lots, you get drunk. I don't feel the need to tell people how often I pee, or what effect beer has on me the next day (although that glass of yeast from Thornbridge Halcyon certainly had a bit of a laxative effect, but nothing more serious).

    I think like so much writing, it isn't so much the subject matter, but how you do it that counts. Pete Brown's account in 'Hops and Glory' of falling off a barge into a canal is a good example, although now I think about it, that may not have been drink-related. Sorry if I'm maligning you there, Pete.

    If you think you can write something interesting about being drunk, Mark, give it a go - we'll happily let you know what we think.

  15. I want him to try to write something interested about having a pee. For instance, is "don't break the seal" a universal cross cultural concept?

  16. Alan, yes it is. By coincidence a German colleague used the exact same expression today when talking about drinking. They make fun of me because I have to go so often...

  17. What's the point of getting pissed if you don't throw up on trains and piss in bins ?

  18. As bloggers (writers? journalists?) isn't it our job to write something entertaining for the reader? If you can write something entertaining to your reader, does it really matter?

    Let's say Pencil and Spoon becomes a chronicling of how drunk Mark gets on a daily basis. Nothing but lists of drinks and drunken activities that follow. It might be worth a laugh every now and again, but it's not that interesting.

    Anyone within the industry had their early days where they probably had a bit too much to drink at a few events and has since learned to handle their beer in a better fashion.

    Sure, mention it, but make sure it's interesting, or has a place in the piece. Just mentioning it to simply state that you got drunk makes for boring articles/blogs/etc.

  19. hmmm. for me, its a personal choice. until you raised it, I don't think I had ever actually mentioned it in a post, although clearly being drunk is one of the side effects of beer drinking/tasting/whatever. If I thought that it added to the post, then I would bring it up. If not, I'd leave it out. Ultimately, however, blogging is about expression - so i guess it's your choice.

  20. Define "drunk." Because I think it is this that makes all the difference -- plus, of course, how entertaining you can make it sound. If "drunk" is the mild euphoria that comes from having a few beers, then I'm all for it. Love it. It's part of the drinking experience and I'd say I've written about it plenty over my 20 or so years of covering various things alcoholic. If "drunk" is wobbly pegs and "Yer the besht friend I ever had" and dribble running down your shirt, then I hate it, avoid it and would only write about it in a negative context. I got a bit spiffled -- as my mother would say -- at a barley wine tasting last year, largely as a result of being under a tremendous amount of stress at the time and I think without the spittle, and still think about it today.

    And Alan, not only is breaking the seal cross-cultural, but so is that blissful, eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head feeling of finally having a pee after holding it for a long time. What's more, I have it on pretty firm authority that both also cross genders. I tried to write about that once but my editor was hearing nothing of it.

  21. I would define being drunk as being in a state where you might do things you would regret the following day, and might not even remember them. The "mild euphoria from having a few beers" is the stage before that, and is something entirely desirable.

  22. getting drunk appears to be a bi-product of drinking higher strength beers. I go out to drink 5-7 beers in a night, often ordering half pints of strong Imperial. Trying to get drunk is what you do when your 16. But writing a blog while getting drunk provide some insights that may not be apparent when writing a blog at 9am on a monday morning.

  23. I was going to comment here, but realized I was getting wordy and turned it into a blog post.

    Short version: alcohol is a perfectly pleasant and moral thing to enjoy responsibly and maturely, and I'd rather see wine and spirit people take the stick out of their ass and admit they enjoy the effects of that chemistry than to try to imitate some holier-than-thou attitude.

  24. Alan -- I prefer "don't pop the cork".

    Mark -- I don't think people should avoid mentioning tipsiness in context, but drunkenness is not, in itself, very interesting to read about. I remember university being several years of people repeatedly telling me that they were, like, oh my God, so wasted. It got tired very quickly.

  25. Great comments. It's an interesting issue. I've never noticed anyone really discuss it more than by saying they were really drunk or really hungover. I'm all for people writing about it because it fits with blogging's informal nature.

    At least the one thing we all agree on is breaking the seal, especially when you've been holding on for a long time, is a wonderful feeling. Now, I need to go and get drunk and write something...

  26. I made a post on my blog related to this here.

  27. Since Stephen shared, I feel the need to share. I worked a local festival in my blogging infancy and having complete the task of covering the event, found some friends behind the jockey boxes who were in need of assistance. I set up next to the Alaskan taps where the summer ale and amber were flowing steadily but no one would touch their world class barleywine and smoked porter. Long story short, the rep was anxious to pour the beer and I was anxious to drink it.

    The story did end well with me getting a ride home safely.

  28. Cookie, is pissing on a train and throwing up in a bin acceptable as well? No reason I ask...