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April 23, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]


Yet another worthless series of Dancing with the Stars has started and sadly hundreds of thousands of mindless drones will be glued to the screen to see who is crowned New Zealand’s least worst amateur dancer.

As part of my personal struggle against the continual dilution of what passes for popular culture, this column is about some people we should actually admire – the legendary beer drinkers of the world!

By international standards New Zealanders are not big beer drinkers.

Our average consumption of 77 litres of beer a year puts us in 16th place on the world drinking table. In first place by a clear margin is the Czech Republic. They drink almost twice as much beer as we do.

Ireland is placed second, Germany third, while neighbours Australia are fourth. The city with the highest rate of consumption – at a staggering 230 litres per person (almost three times that of New Zealand) – is Darwin, Australia.

Verifiable facts about legendary drinking achievements are hard to find. The Guinness Book of Records – ironically invented to help end arguments in Irish pubs – has stopped including drinking and eating records for fear of litigation.

We do know that the unofficial world record for drinking a pint of Guinness is 3.9 seconds. It was achieved by Paul Behan of England at 8:30am on a live breakfast radio show. As befits a descendent of the hard-drinking writer Brendan Behan, Paul Behan set the record after having two pints to calm his nerves.

Closer to home, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke set a world beer drinking record of his own while on a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. Having committed the heinous offence of ‘coming to dinner without a gown’, Hawke had to drink two and half pints of ale out of a pewter pot in less than 25 seconds. He did it in 11 seconds.

In his memoirs Hawke wrote, ‘this feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved’.

For ‘relay drinking’ (where a person starts drinking only when the person before them has finished), the world record is again held by the ‘enthusiastic Czech patriots’ of Sumperk who downed 2,662 half-litres of beer in less than 17 hours – a rate of over 156 beers per hour.

Writing in the excellent Modern Drunkard Magazine, Richard English says the world record for the largest number of beers consumed in a single sitting was set by the late, great Andre the Giant.

A professional wrestler who stood over seven feet tall and loved alcohol, Andre once drank 119 bottles of beer in six hours. He passed out in the hallway of a hotel so his friends stole a piano cover from the lounge and draped it over Andre’s inert form. He slept peacefully until morning. Apparently he must have looked like a piano.

Rich says, “That’s a beer every three minutes, non stop. That’s beyond epic. It’s beyond the ken of mortal men. It’s god-like”.

He truly was the eighth wonder of the world.


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Comments (6)

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  1. Mike Heine says:

    Amen to that.
    Ah, wrestling and beer in the same column. This is the greatest Salient article ever!

  2. Michael says:

    Andre the Giant for the win.

  3. Dee says:

    It is of no surprise what-so-ever to me that Darwin is the city with the highest rate of consumption of beer in Australia. Please, if there are any business leaders/
    corporate professionals reading this, please seriously consider moving part of your business to Darwin to give some of those poor Darwinities something more productive to do with their time!

  4. Luke says:

    Neil thanks for the mini plug for Epic – …”That’s beyond epic”


  5. Paul Behan says:

    My personal best is actually 1.5 seconds.

    Being on the Virgin Radio Breakfast show was fun.

    Funny what you find when you google yourself!


  6. Kevin Behan says:

    My Son Paul’s record for drinking a pint of Guinness at 3.9 seconds took place under the strict
    adjudication of the Guinness brewery in Dublin.The strict rules would not allow him to touch the
    glass before the clock was started.Not a single drop of the drink was allowed to be spilt.
    Paul’s record is a verifiable official world record.

    On a cultural level I must register my support for your brave recognition of the importance
    of beer drinking.I am sure if your message cuts through the health Fascism at Victoria
    University it will release a creative vein of talent that will take New Zealand away from
    the blind cultural cul-de-sac of being the film set for Harry Potter.
    With Regards.
    Kevin Behan.

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