As a non drinker, you might be surprised that I have a beer story in my repertoire!
In 1759, Arthur Guinnes (at the tender age of 34) saw an opportunity to buy an old, dilapidated, ill equipped brewery in Dublin, which had been on the market for 10 years. After some negotiation, he signed a 9,000 year lease for just 45 pounds a year! Everyone was convinced that he was mad! No one drank beer! Whisky and gin were more popular, more available and cheaper!
So why did he buy it? He wanted to do something to combat the widespread alcoholism and drunkenness, and a whole range of related social problems. Young Guinness was a Christian and felt that God was calling him, not to join the ranks of those demanding total abstinence, but to provide a better alternative. The brew that developed was a very new beer containing roasted barley using a secret recipe making it much more than the average dark stout. The result was a full bodied, thick, smooth, slightly bitter beer with a rich, creamy head.
This was a beer that was good for you! It was also so heavy and full of iron that drinkers felt full and they couldn’t drink more than a couple of pints, and because it had a much lower alcohol content than whisky or gin – it was almost impossible to get drunk on it!
I’m not sure that many preachers today would encourage that approach, but it seems to make sense in our culture where the incidence of binge drinking among young people is increasing. The aim seems to be to get as drunk as possible, as quick as possible, as cheaply as possible, with no thinking about the consequences. I don’t believe that calling for total abstinence will work, but providing and encouraging healthier alternatives (light and mid strength beers) might.
In my role as Padre I have to deal with the whole range of effects of alcohol abuse, the devastation of families, carnage on the roads and health issues. Like Guinnes, I believe that God has a role for me to play, and it is not to run a brewery, but to help people deal with the issue of WHY they are using alcohol as an escape. If that is what you are struggling with, I suggest you find a Chaplain, or an AA group, or someone you can trust, to talk to and who can help you.
Chaplain Ian Whitley