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In Czech Republic, Beer, not Soda, is the Problem

January 28, 2013
Plain English Version

At taverns in the Czech Republic, beer is cheaper than water.

In the U Zelenku tavern in Prague, a pint of beer costs as little as 99 cents. The same size soda water (seltzer or club soda) is $1.30. At the touristy Kolkovna restaurant, a pint of beer costs $2.50 while mineral water costs $2.29 for a bottle less than half the size.

Czechs are huge consumers of beer. The average Czech drinks 37 gallons a year. That is more than double the amount Americans drink. Czechs call beer “liquid bread” or “mother’s milk for adults.”

An expert said, “Beer is really widespread, with very deep roots. It is a well-anchored, important part of everyday life. Since the Middle Ages people have made beer their primary drink.”

The Czech Republic Minister of Health is trying to change that.

He wants restaurants and bars to offer at least one non-alcoholic drink at a price lower than the price of beer.

His goal is to reduce beer drinking, especially among teenagers. The drinking age is 18. He also wants to fine bar owners for serving alcohol to minors and limit indoor smoking.

He also said it would be even easier to offer customers a pitcher of tap water. However, that is not the custom in the Czech Republic.

Czechs do not like the government regulating their behavior. It is a reaction to the time when they were under communist rule.

The Health Minister said, “I can imagine the law we offer may not be successful this year, but maybe next time.”

The Wall Street Journal

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