Sat. Sep 30th, 2023


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It’s illegal to get drunk in UK pubs – and that’s not the weirdest booze rule

3 min read

It's officially International Beer Day, giving millions of us Brits – as if we needed it – the excuse to enjoy a refreshing pint here or abroad.

But, as the world celebrates the wonder of the famous brews, make sure you keep this side of the law with your tipple.

For, all over the globe, there are some wild and wacky decrees about the drink, as James Moore reveals…

Fair drop

You could end up suffering with more than a hangover if you have too many beers in a UK pub. It’s actually illegal to get drunk in one. The Metropolitan Act of 1839 says it’s against the law for the keeper of a public house to permit drunkenness on their premises.


Best keep abreast of the local restrictions when Down Under. In Western Australia it’s illegal for a woman to crush a beer can between her boobs. And to prove it, in 2007, a barmaid was fined for doing just that.

Snack down

Like your bar nibbles? It’s against the law to serve beer with pretzels at any restaurant, bar or club in the American state of North Dakota.

In the can

They say never drink on an empty stomach. Which might account for the strange ruling in Nebraska, US, that it’s illegal for a bartender to serve beer unless they’re also cooking up a pan of soup.

Tight spot

Rounds are small in Nyala, Nevada, where a statute says you may not buy a beer for more than three other people at any time of day. And it’s illegal to say “put it on my tab” in Iowa.

Beer, what beer?

In Russia, until 2011, beer was considered a soft drink. Up until then anything containing less than 10% alcohol in the country was treated as a foodstuff.

Moose remember

If you’re planning on visiting the Fairbanks in Alaska on no account try to offer a local moose a beery beverage. It’s strictly forbidden.

Not on your Nellie

Don’t head to Natchez, Missouri, US, with your pet elephant either, as getting a pachyderm intoxicated could put you in the dock. Meanwhile, in Ohio, getting a fish sloshed could see you in the drunk tank.

They’re made of hard stuff in Saskatchewan, Canada, where there’s an edict against drinking water in a beer parlour.

Sit silly

In the town of Lefors, Texas, it’s illegal to take more than three sips of a beer while standing up. There also used to be a law in the state that you couldn’t own an Encyclopaedia Britannica because it contained a beer recipe.

Moo are in trouble

Don’t try and take charge of cattle after a few bevvies in Scotland. Under the 1872 Licensing Act, it’s an offence to be drunk while in charge of a cow there – punishable by a potential 51 weeks in jail.

Votes for beer

It wasn’t until 2014 the US state of South Carolina overturned an 1882 law that made drinking a beer on election days illegal.

Evening ale

Happy hours are banned in Massachusetts while cold beer was technically banned in Oklahoma until 2018.

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