Trying to get a peg up
WOODEN PEGS? BEER? Well, go get your comfy shoes on because we are going on a journey back in time to discover the connection!
Found those shoes? Well you can relax for a moment because we need some context.
In Australia, A Local Beer’s XPA is 1.4 standard drinks of deliciousness - but why is this the case?
It’s a great question. The deliciousness comes from our commitment to creating the best quality beer - and the added ingredient of love*. (very funny Hugo but get back to the bit about the pegs)
Patience my young grasshoppers we are getting there. Did you get those shoes yet?
In Australia today, a “standard drink” contains 10g of pure alcohol. Interestingly, each country’s definition of “standard” changes around the world. In Japan, for example, it is almost 20g of alcohol in their “standard”! (You O.K. Japan?)
Standard units are a great idea - it allows consumers to accurately track exactly how much alcohol they are consuming and for states to regulate (and importantly tax) the alcohol industry.
Of course, it was not always this regulated.
For most of history, we had no idea how much alcohol our beer had and how much was, as they say, too much. So, let me take you back to 10th Century England where we witness the introduction of the “standard drink” and find out what these pegs have to do with it. No time to grab your shoes - let us go!
It is 959 AD and King Edgar realises that the English are drinking A LOT (not for the first nor the last time in their history might we add). He attempts to address this excessive drunkenness by decreeing that there should only be one pub per village and, that all drinking vessels should be of equal size and be marked on the inside with pegs. Edgar states that no-one should drink more than a pegs worth of beer in a single sitting. Great idea Edgar, but there are a few key problems with that system of measurement.
The first, obviously, is that people do not like being told what they can and cannot do and, most importantly, how much they can drink. The second is that the English found it very difficult to gauge exactly where the peg is as they are drinking from the vessel. You see it is very easy to miss the peg and ‘accidentally’ drink too much. So, the only reasonable thing to do is to just aim for the next peg until they miss that one as well. What a shame! The King would be very disappointed. Might as well just drink the whole vessel and try harder next time.
The unintended consequence of this system is that instead of curtailing excessive drinking - it facilitated it. You see people soon realised that these vessels gave them an opportunity to display their drinking prowess. I mean what better activity than to challenge your friends to see if you could drink more than them from these vessels and ‘take them down a peg or two.’
As the centuries rolled on, standardisation slowly became the norm across most nations but it’s nice to look back and realise that what we have today - modern competitive drinking, standardisation and a popular saying - is thanks to some drunken English 1000 years ago, a well-intentioned King and some wooden pegs.
*Love is technically not recorded in the ingredients list of A Local Beer XPA but you know its there.
A Local Beer promotes the responsible consumption of alcohol.
The Australian Government recommends for healthy men and women to drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. (A Local Beer recommends all these drinks come from A Local Beer’s XPA and Pacific Paradise.)
Co-founder 'A Local Beer'