Why Indonesians Don’t Drink Beer


The reason is awful advertisements like this one.   Nobody’s drinking!

In the first scene, we see our man is a construction worker.  Any job that involves manual labour is low status in Indonesia.  At least they could have put him on an  oil rig, which everyone knows pays big money.

At the endo of a hard day’s work, the classic time for a refreshing beer, what’s he do but wash his face?  Maybe we’re supposed to think he’s washing in beer?  Otherwise, there’s no beer consumed after work at this site

In the second half we move to the pub.  Surely this is the place to drink beer, if anywhere?  Apparently not.  In this pub, everyone stands around playing pool, not a glass in sight.  Actually, it’s typical of a lot of Indonesian pubs I’ve been to.

So what’s the reason for the advertiser’s coyness?  Maybe there’s an unannounced censorship of showing people in the act of drinking?  There’s quite a taboo against drinking in Indonesia.  It’s not only because of the large Muslim population, even Catholics are unlikely to be big drinkers.  I once attended an Evangelical service where they used cordial instead of wine for their communion (talk about drinking the cool aid!)  Hmm, can any reader tell me if that’s a common practice among Evangelicals, to drink cordial or juice during their services?

Anyhow, despite the existence of native alcohols such as arak, there just isn’t a drinking culture among Indonesians generally.  People seem to fear it and have little understanding of it’s actual effects.  You will find a lot of people who think that a single drink will turn them into raving alcoholics.

Having said all of that, alcohol is readily available.  You will even find it sold by the case at supermarkets.  I don’t know who drinks it, I guess they do it on the sly.

Here’s someone who appreciates a good drink:

Nanna takes a sip

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2 Responses to “Why Indonesians Don’t Drink Beer”

  1. tempo dulu Says:

    Hi!

    There is a drinking culture in Indonesia, but it is a niche market.
    Guiness and Bir Bintang are very popular among some ethnic groups. and some wealthy people also drink a lot – check out places like Blowfish or Dragonfly – and you can find many drunk people. Cheers!

    • aboutindo Says:

      Thanks for the info. I’m always up for more research 😉 But I’m not convinced. Those who go to the bars are only a small segment of the elite. I’ve been to Javanese, Chinese and Timorese wedding receptions and they were all dry. So which ethnic group has the best drinkers? I might make some new friends :))

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