I am not a patient man. My family, friends, and the guy going 10 mph under the speed limit whose bumper I am riding will verify this, should you have any doubts. So, a few weeks ago as I typed samueladams.com into my web browser, I shortly became incensed as the site asked me my age not once, but twice ,just to make sure that I was actually 21 years old.
I am on my lunch break here guys…those precious 2.5 seconds I just wasted could have been put to a better purpose…like daydreaming about beer…
Having recently contemplated the intricacies (and oddities!) of the U.S. Drinking Age, I began to ponder why a beer website, such as Sam Adams needed such strict age checking before visiting their site. Is it really necessary? I mean, Samuel Adams does not sell any of there fermented product on their site (although they do offer a pretty rad Ski Lift Beer Tray…which I must have). Besides, correct me if I’m wrong, but the brief and markedly credible research I’ve done has shown that even sites selling beer do not legally have to verify age upon entrance to the site, only upon checkout.
Consider this…it would be like Wal-Mart denying your accompanying six year old entrance to their super-center for fears that he might catch a glimpse of some God-awful, commercially owned, swill of a beer in aisle 13. What’s next? Will there be a ten second lag of white noise this next Superbowl so that parents can clear the room of all the virgin eyes and ears before 3 cute toads fill the screen and croak praises to Budweiser?
Sure, I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill, but it just seems so unnecessary. Scratch that. It seems prohibitive to sales and customer retention. In my absurd obsession with time frugality, I will avoid those sites that hinder my quick access. So why do it? Why hassle beer guzzling consumers?
I cannot answer for Sam Adams, or other US brewers, but I can extrapolate. The age verification application that guards the gates of SamAdams.com is sponsored by Century Council, which is a non-profit funded by brewers/distillers to combat underage drinking and drunk driving. You may remember their commercial touting the epic one liner, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk…” Yeah, good message (seriously).
Let’s face it, there are more than a few bitter neo-prohibitionists and irresponsible citizens looking to sue alcohol companies for negligence when friends or family members break the law and end up disabled or dead after having too much to drink. Case in point, Bacardi was sued in 2004 after such an incident. The plaintiff alleged Bacardi contributed to the death of their son (19 years old) who died of alcohol poisoning. Bacardi just so happens to be a member of the Century Coalition.
Brewers must be scared silly…I would be! I am a huge fan of moderation. I am passionate about keeping inebriated consumers off the road. I would be mortified if I found my underage son passed out with a bottle of tequila in his hand. But I also brew my own beer and supply it to my friends and family free of charge. The moment it leaves my hands, it is no longer my responsibility.
I doubt that Jim Koch of Sam Adams, or all the other brewers out their under the scrutinizing eyes of the blame shifting public out there, truly believe that putting a age verification application on their actually deters underage drinking. I can just imagine a couple of 19 year old frat boys:
FRAT BOY ONE: Hey bro, lets go pick up a 24 of Keystone Ice and get smashed!!!
FRAT BOY TWO: I was going to say the same thing…until I stopped by their website and realized we’re not old enough to drink Keystone Ice. Let’s get some root beers instead!
Not likely. But the brewers have to do something. They have to at least pretend like they have control over minors for whom they are not guardians. So until logic decides to embrace American culture with her beautiful figure, I will have to tolerate irritation and work on developing the virtue of patience.
The oddity of such age verification hassles at website entrances serve little purpose but to delay entrance. They are easily bypassed by a little mathematical knowledge. What year is it? 2009? Ok, for giggles I’ll just enter in 1970 as my year of birth rather than 1990. Wicked awesome… I’m in!
Exactly, Big Tex…which lead me to believe this it is all done to look like they care (even though I know most brewers do…it’s just hard to convince a MADD spokesman of that).
Just for kicks I tried to the Sam Adams site I was as old as Jesus of Nazareth and it was smart enough to catch on and bar my entrance.
Self preservation is the name of the game. Putting up the 21 age thing is a bit like a wet floor sign. We’re sorry but the sign was up, now you can’t sue us.
Great analogy Mike! That’s exactly what I was getting at. I wish I had thought of that wet floor sign symbolism.
Man, this is one of my pet peeves in beer land right now. I HATE the age verification process online. What’s next, TV beer commercials with a disclaimer? “IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21, PLEASE LEAVE THE ROOM FOR THE NEXT 30 SECONDS.”
Give me a break.
So far my favorite age-verification beer site is from Erdinger. Why? Cause it asks if you are at least 16 years old…. (Those Germans start ‘em early!)
Yup, its all CYA for the businesses.
That’s why the spray paint can says not to spray it into your eyes. Still, the print should be bigger because once the paint was in my eyes it was much too difficult to read the warning! Gonna sue me a paint company! Did the same thing with spray deodorant ,but at least my eyes stopped smelling for the time being.
Haha, this is actually the dumbest f’ing thing on the internet. I really don’ understand what is illegal about reading about beer and/or a brewery. How is it any different the thousands of beer ads on TV all the time. Grr…
Agreed! We don’t get it either. There is a a serious culture of double standards on this topic. Money talks!
Might not be a law but FTC recomendations are not to be taken lightly.
Holy smokes, man/woman, that’s a book there! It will take me a while to go through it. thanks for the info, it is nice to get some solid reasoning. Shall I assume you operate a brewery’s site or work for the FTC?
In case anyone checks out the link http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/06/080626alcoholreport.pdf it’s on page 28.