I’m still getting used to the idea that my son went out for a few beers to celebrate his 16th birthday last weekend. Yes, it’s legal to consume beer and wine at age 16 in Germany. A quick check on Wikipedia let’s me know that “the German laws regulating alcohol use and sale are some of the least restrictive ones in the world.” The rationale behind Germany’s liberal approach is that earlier exposure will help young people learn appropriate drinking habits.
Avery arrived home from his birthday festivities at a bar in Teltow with a huge grin on his face and the sweet smell of beer on his breath. He was not drunk and he made his journey home on Berlin’s highly safe and reliable public transit system. Whether he will now adopt “appropriate drinking habits” remains to be seen. As a parent, I prefer that he learn his limits in a safe and legal environment rather than get caught with alcohol as a minor while waiting to turn 21 in the U.S.
The good news is that Avery will not be eligible to get his driver’s license in Germany until he is 18. Drinking at 16 and driving at 18 makes more sense to me than driving at 15, voting at 18, and drinking at 21. I’d prefer a legal drinking age of 18, but time will tell how the German tolerance of undistilled spirits for 16 year olds impacts our family.