Drink responsibly or not at all

22:14, Jan 17 2013

This story is depressingly sad. An 18-year-old is dead after drinking home brewed spirits. Anyone dying so young is tragic.

However, the story misses the point. They cover off all the facts, but the framing does not make sense. To me, this story says ''home brew killed this person''.

But while the spotlight was put on the safety of brewing - which I agree is important - a point needs to be made clear. This person died after drinking two litres of spirits in ten minutes.

If those sprits were from a liquor store, that would have totalled about 60 standard drinks. To put things in context, that adds up to five 12-packs of Tui. Even the booziest of party animals would struggle to drink that much in a week, let alone ten minutes.

While I'm not a coroner, I'm quite sure that 60 standard drinks in ten minutes - home or professionally brewed - is not good for you.

But the question still goes begging - can you kill yourself with home brew if it is not made right? I can't speak for spirits - I've never tried distilling the stuff in my life - but I'm almost positive that a badly brewed batch of beer won't kill you. First of all, it is impossible for most beer yeasts to produce a beverage with an alcohol content above the mid-teens. Secondly, the yeast in beer is actually very good for you and packed full of B vitamins. Finally, if you beer does end up being infected with bad yeast it will not kill you. Do remember that through the Middle Ages, the English drank beer instead of water as the water was undrinkable. 

While it is sad when anyone dies, we do have to remember that alcohol - either home brewed or from a shop - can be dangerous and needs to be treated with respect. So don't go sculling two litres of spirits, beer, wine or any other kind of alcohol in ten minutes.

As it says on the back of almost every Three Boys bottle - ''Three Boys ask that you drink responsibly or not at all''.

P.S. There has been a happy ending to this piece of news. The owners of Wellington start-up business Baylands Brewery have decided to purchase the home brew arm of Liberty 


Manawatu Standard