Vive la Difference!

London Lord Mayor Ken Livingstone would love it. If he were French, closing time would be a matter for him. When he’s finished his drink, that’s it, everybody goes home. (Not really – but the Mayor does have a big say over late licence extensions and when nightclubs can close.)

Bars generally close around 1am, but some stay open as late as 3am, while clubs stay open until 5am.

The French drink their beer out of 25cl or 33cl glasses. If you put a pint in front of them they’d probably feel like a child faced with a Supersize burger.

The thing is, though, the French drink a surprisingly large amount of beer – but without the problems associated with the English – probably because they have more drinking time. Oddly, seven out of every 10 glasses of beer is consumed at home in France; the reverse of the British situation.

This represents one example of how just different various drinking cultures can be.

Despite the short hop from Britain to the Continent, the fact that European beers are commonplace in Britain, and the evidence that globalisation is making our world increasingly homogenous, the world of beer reveals some huge differences in drinking culture.

Just look at the differences between France and its neighbours. France has its world-famous wine industry, and many French people prefer it to beer. But over the border from France in Belgium, wine is a four-letter word (okay it’s vin, which is three letters, but you get the drift).

Brasseries and cafés are full of life, character and as many beers as you can shake a stick at. Some have more than 200 beers. There are Trappist beers, fruit beers, lambic beers, geuezes, Abbey beers and speciality beers. The Belgians drink beer with their food and even cook with it. Hotels offer beer packages for tourists looking to explore this culture.

One example of this is the Hotel Bristol Stephanie’s Beer Lovers Package shown right. Each item on the menu for the four-course gourmet dinner, served on the Friday night, is cooked and served with beer.

Article Continues in Beers of the World Magazine Issue 1

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