Is It a Problem That Beer Is Cheaper Than Water in the Czech Republic?

Photo: flickr/James Cridland

Photo: flickr/James Cridland

The guys in Dumb & Dumber dreamed of a place “where the beer flows like wine,” but what about a place where the beer flows like water? For that, you’ll have to go to the Czech Republic.

The Wall Street Journal reports that beer is, in fact, cheaper than water in the country’s pubs, and Health Minister Leos Heger wishes that wasn’t the case. Now, he’s on a mission to change a culture that has long valued beer as an everyday necessity.

According to WSJ, Heger is proposing that restaurants and bars “offer at least one nonalcoholic beverage at a price lower than that of the same amount of beer, primarily to offer teens, who can legally drink at 18, an alternative.” Other proposed measures include increased penalty on purveyors serving alcohol to minors. While the plans remain with the cabinet—not even reaching Parliament yet—the minister has an uphill battle on his hands.

The Czech Hotel and Restaurant Association has already indicated that it is prepared to fight what’s viewed as excessive regulation of “a struggling industry at the most inopportune time, with a country in the midst of a recession.” 

The animus is understandable, explains the director of the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Public Opinion Research Center, given beer’s storied history as the people’s drink of choice for a millenium or so.

Heger is more concerned about the impact on younger generations. As it stands, one can find a pint of of cheap beer for 99 cents and soda water for $1.30. And some experts are saying that “the Czech Republic’s relatively low beer prices encourage consumption and contribute to underage drinking, since it makes beer more affordable for youngsters.”

[via The Wall Street Journal]

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