New Zealand is facing an ethical breakfast crisis. As reported in the New Zealand Herald last week there is a “breakfast beer” hitting the market that has angered alcohol watchdogs. The cherry-flavoured, wheat lager by Marlborough brewery Moa is described as “a beer the ladies can enjoy too … if you’re having a champagne breakfast but don’t fancy champagne, have a beer instead”.
National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman described the marketing as “breathtakingly bold” and said people might be inclined to drink a “breakfast beer” because they were risk-takers.
I don’t think “risk” has anything to do with it. People might be inclined to drink a “breakfast beer” because they’re already alcoholics. Attention to detail and sobriety might not be necessary in their jobs.
“It’s a completely irresponsible stunt from a health and addiction perspective, because it is normalising pathological behaviour.” Alcohol Healthwatch adviser Christine Rogan said drinking in the morning was an indicator of an alcohol problem.
“Here we have fools seeking to profit from encouraging the behaviour. This sort of nonsense is not a reflection of New Zealand’s poor attitude to alcohol, it is an example of what is driving it.”
Isn’t that the basis of capitalism? Seeking profit by encouraging certain questionalble behaviors? How else do you explain the popularity of low rise jeans, Red Bull, and the Snuggie?
Rogan said New Zealanders were calling for more control over alcohol in the community “not looking for ways to increase and legitimise drinking at all hours of the day”.
National manager of Students Against Drunk Driving Anna Reid was concerned people would be leaving a “boozy breakfast” at a time when children were going to school and people were going to work.
Moa co-owner Geoff Ross said his company wasn’t targeting alcoholics, nor was it trying to create irresponsible behaviour. “Look at cultures like Germany where a lager in the right circumstances is part of the culture, or Italy where the grappa is used as a morning pick-me-up. Cultures around the world consume alcohol in the right way, and that includes breakfast.”
He said telling people they “probably” shouldn’t drive was a fun way of reminding them about their responsibilities without being heavy handed.
So what’s breakfast beer like? The New Zealand Herald offered samples to random people.
GRACE LOFTUS, 33, communications advisor:
“I’m Irish, and in Europe it’s acceptable to have a beer at 11am. Some breakfast beers are taste enhancers … it doesn’t mean I’m going to have 10 drinks.”
Taste: “It’s nice, like a Belgian beer. It’s got strawberry and raspberry flavours with a hint of cherry.”
NICK COENDOZ, 27, business support worker:
“Drinking during the week is going a bit far, though at the weekend there’s no limit. I’m s***house at work if I’ve had a few, but to call it pathological behaviour is going a bit far.”
Taste: “It’s very hoppy with a nice strength. There are light citrusy flavours, it’s very crisp and clean. Not too bad for a morning beer.”
JOAN MATSON, 65, retired, of Waikanae:
“Drinking beer for breakfast isn’t the end of the world because I’ve done a champagne breakfast. After gardening when you’re hot yes, but I don’t know about 7 in the morning.”
Taste: “There are interesting kiwifruit flavours on first impression. It’s a bit like a shandy. It’s not bad.”
TIMMY HAWEA, 24, student:
“I’d have it with steak and eggs for breakfast. Some people might just have a pick-me-up at the start of the day – it could be potentially risky if an alcoholic has one.”
Taste: It’s got a better taste than a standard beer and doesn’t have that poisonous alcoholic taste. It tastes like a cider but it’s not as strong.”