No Beer at Work? Time to Strike

Category: Culture

beer glassesWhew, it was a hard day at work and now it’s time for a beer at a local bar with your colleagues. Well, if you work at various European breweries, you can drink with your colleague at work.

In fact, until three weeks ago, at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark, you could drink the yeasty brew of your hard labor anytime during your shift. As of April 1 however, the brewery taps went dry and workers were restricted to only (!) three pints during lunch hour.

Much to the chagrin of the union, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, so they did what any sensible beer-loving-brewery-worker would do — they went on strike. Who suffered the most? More than likely beer consumers in Copenhagen who couldn’t buy Carlsberg beer for three days during the strike.

The strike is over (learn management’s point of view on The World), and the beer is flowing again for consumers, while all-you-can-drink water and soft drinks are flowing for brewery workers.

To Americans, the very thought of drinking on the job seems strange — especially company-sanctioned and supplied alcohol consumption. Perhaps even more surprising is that this is in a factory setting where accidents are already prone to happen. Driving a forklift after a pint or two? Here, that may be cause for immediate dismissal.

However, it wasn’t that long ago that American breweries allowed drinking on the job as well. As reported in the The Wall Street Journal, the Boston Beer Co., (makers of Samuel Adams) allowed brewery workers to down a cold one during the 1940s and still allows corporate workers to drink while at the office, substituting a keg for the water cooler — a notable exception to the no alcohol rule at many American companies.

In Europe, depending on the country, it’s commonplace to have brewery workers drink on the job (with a big exception being Anheuser Busch-InBev based in Belgium). Nearly all 120 breweries in Denmark and all the monastery breweries in Belgium allow consumption on the job. That may change with the influence of American work culture on European companies, Carlsberg’s new policy, and with the consolidation of the beer industry by lawsuit-wary corporations.

As a consumer, what does this mean to you? Well, not much really. Whether or not your favorite brand allows for copious taste testing at the brewery will not, more than likely, alter your consumption after leaving work.

So, raise your beer glass and impress your multilingual bartender here or while traveling by learning these phrases. Cheers!

Danish: Skål

Dutch: Proost

Portuguese: À nossa saúde / Saúde

French: A votre santé / Santé

Spanish: Salud

German: Prost

Mandarin Chinese: 干杯 (Gānbēi)

Greek: Στην υγειά μας (Stin iyá mas)

Japanese: 乾杯 or かんぱい(Kompai)

Photo Attribution: Anders Adermark