Hot Topic: Drinking and hot weather

Dan Malleck

Brock expert Dan Malleck says it's understandable that hot temperatures send more people to the pub.

Yes, hot summer weather makes us drink more. But Dan Malleck says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The associate professor in Community Health Sciences studies alcohol and drug regulation and prohibition. Recent media reports show hot and humid temperatures have sent people to bars and liquor stores.

The Toronto Star reported Aug. 3 that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario sold 2.4 million more litres of beer and cider than the same period last summer, the equivalent of more than 1 million six packs. The St. Catharines Standard reported last week that local bars and restaurants are seeing double-digit increases in liquor sales.

Malleck is not surprised. But alcohol may be getting a bad rap in this analysis, he said. Where there are people convening on patios, there is more likely to be drinking. And people could be drinking more diet cola too, said the professor, who appeared on CKTB last week to discuss the issue.

“It’s interesting how we frame a problem,” he said.

Is it true that there’s a correlation between warm weather and alcohol consumption?

There seems to be. I don’t know whether it’s just with alcohol though. Maybe we drink more Coke as well. It could just be because it’s hot and we want fluids when it’s hot. People might be consuming more of those fluids on patios. Also, when it’s hot, we tend to work less. If we’re taking time off work and spending it with friends, chances are there’s going to be drinking. That’s a centuries-old practice.

Is there a down side?

People would probably make a lot of the societal and public order downsides, such as impaired driving. If you’re sitting on a patio in Port Dalhousie and you live in Thorold, you have to get home somehow. But if you’re doing that safely, mostly it’s just the downside of doing anything in excess.

Why do we like to drink alcohol when it’s hot?

I haven’t dug through the last few years of literature, but people drink more in the summer. People drink more on holidays. All of it is about people socializing. Our bodies need more fluids when it’s hot. If we looked at water consumption, there may be a correlation there too. It’s not necessarily something to be worried about. As long as people are drinking responsibly, not driving and not drinking to excess, they’re not really harming anyone.

Dan Malleck — faculty profile

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2 comments on “Hot Topic: Drinking and hot weather”

  1. Matt Clare says:

    It’s true that how much alcohols is being sold is not the full story, it just the one that came with a press release from a public company that doesn’t have trade secrets to protect.

    I love my beer, and choose them carefully.

    But I have to admit that one of the best beers I’ve ever had was a regular high-volume domestic beer gifted to me on the hotest days of a two straight weeks work at a northern-ontario summer camp. The beer was thoroughly enjoyed, but not savoured.

  2. Dan says:

    I agree Matt.

    One additional consideration of course is the timing. This press release about the spike in drinking came soon after the LCBO announced new pricing for the booze they sell–and the HST kicked in. So this issue could be seen as a way for the regulator to ramp up the moral panic and then show their own moderationist approach to the issue of recreational drinking. But that would be paranoid, wouldn’t it?

    BTW, if you choose your beer carefully enough, you must be going to Buffalo and buying some of the lovely microbeers available there! No contest!

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