Why Australia Just Banned Its Scientists In Antarctica From Brewing Beer

Picture this. You're gearing up for yet another big research trip to Antarctica, and although you and your expeditioner buddies know that you're headed to one of the most treacherous and least forgiving places on Earth, you're nevertheless pumped for another chance to perfect your home beer-brewing skills — as all of you have been doing since your very first trip to "The Ice" (via Intrepid Travel). It's a tradition for expeditioners like you, after all (via Food & Wine). But then, seemingly out of nowhere, the government is all, "Sorry, but homebrewing will henceforth be prohibited on the continent of Antarctica." 

Well, that is, more or less, what is about to happen to Antarctic expeditioners who hail from Australia — starting in summer 2022. In a move that undoubtedly has some Australian Antarctic expeditioners, who've grown fond of the Antarctic homebrewing tradition, seriously bummed out, the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment — acting through its Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) — will be banning the homebrewing of beer at all Australian Antarctic stations, in a push for workplace safety (via ABC News Australia).

But that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to pending regulations on alcohol consumption on the "coldest, highest, driest, windiest, brightest, and yes, iciest continent on Earth" (via The Conversation). Here's what's behind Australia's new restrictions on alcohol use in Antarctica, including that pesky ban on homebrewing.

Australia just wants everyone to be comfortable, and if that means an end to homebrewing, so be it

Australia's ban on homebrewing by its scientists in Antarctica was not intended to single out beer, in particular. Rather, the government is regulating the possession and consumption of ALL alcohol by its Antarctic expeditioners. The pending regulations, which will go into effect next summer, also limit the number of alcoholic beverages any one expeditioner can drink per week — to 10, and how much alcohol they can bring with them to the continent — to seven cans of beer OR 1.5 bottles of wine or champagne, OR a half bottle of spirits per week. "Homebrew was just adding too much alcohol to the total volume," AAD director Kim Ellis told ABC News Australia

So, why does the AAD see a need to impose these limits in the first place? Not in response to any particular incident, but rather to "create a comfortable and safe community atmosphere on research stations," Ellis explained to ABC, adding, "The sad truth of it is [...] alcohol makes people lose inhibitions, and I am determined that women in our program should feel safe, and part of that is providing an environment where alcohol is controlled." In addition, Ellis pointed out Antarctica is uniquely unforgiving. If you get yourself drunk and go out to look at the stars, your comrades most likely will have to retrieve your frozen body in the morning.