In the 1870s, New Zealanders were the biggest beer drinkers in the world, quaffing an estimated 167 foaming litres annually. One hundred years later, that figure peaked again at 181 litres but consumption has fallen steadily since the 1970s. Kiwis now drink around 79 litres, putting us in 20th place on the global rankings. Most cost-benefit analyses tend to focus on the costs and gloss over the undoubted benefits of beer. Here are the top 10 under-appreciated benefits of drinking beer:
1. Beer lessens the constant anxiety of watching the Black Caps bat.
2. After beer, Gareth Morgan's constant lectures become slightly less annoying.
3. Beer enables people to hold strong opinions on every issue without resorting to research.
4. Without beer, no one would date in the provinces.
5. Television beer ads employ all young Kiwi actors not talented enough to be on Shortland Street.
6. The Government gets lots of money from beer through excise tax, GST and company tax on anyone who manages to make a profit.
7. Frank Zappa said "You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team or some nuclear weapons." Without beer, New Zealand would only be half a real country.
8. The late-night takeaway food industry depends on beer for patronage.
9. Beer production provides the main ingredient in Marmite.
10. Drinking a frosty beer annoys President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Professor Doug Sellman.
• Neil Miller is a former Treasury analyst.