Do Brewery Workers Get to Drink Beer While Working?

Brewery workers have historically been allowed to drink beer during the workday. In the US, it's been a common employee perk since around the 18th Century, but this practice has been largely phased out by employers since the early 1900s. Major US, German, and UK brewers all tend to prohibit drinking beer while working but small, local breweries may continue to allow it. Brewery workers in Denmark and Australia are still widely allowed to drink free beer, but within employer-sanctioned limitations, such as lunchtime only.

More about brewery privileges:

  • This perk was often written into brewery workers' union contracts and was known as the Sternwirth privilege. Sternwirth refers to the rooms in breweries where visitors could socialize and sample the product.

  • Prohibition of drinking on the job began around the 20th century to prevent alcohol dependence and workplace accidents.

  • South Africa outlawed the practice in 1960. One of their primary concerns was that employers may otherwise have an incentive to get workers addicted to alcohol and then exploit them for cheap labor.

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Discussion Comments


I worked at the power plant at Anheseur Busch (Saint Louis) in the late 80's or early 90's and they still had coolers in the turbine building filled with beer. There were no restrictions (except your self-imposed ones). They have since done away with it but they do give employees a couple cases of beer a month to take home.


It is a wise decision to not allow it since alcohol affects judgment in an individual. I cannot imagine a drunk individual accurately mixing ingredients for beer brewing.

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