To balance out the previous post, which has hints of Irish bashing by the Brits, I would like to mention a recent BBC article that discusses the British and their love of drinking:BBC NEWS Magazine Half-empty or half-full?: "Although our young people are among the biggest boozers in Europe, overall we still do not drink as much as the French (see last section), but we do so in a different way"
Incidentally, any study of the Industrial Revolution in Britain also automatically becomes an examination of how factory owners and local authorities (often the same body of persons) controlled the consumption of alcohol by the new factory workers, formerly known as peasants. After pay day not much got done until the work force sobered up. (One line of reasoning by the factory owners was that over paying the workers only encouraged them to drink more.) In fact, the regulated closing times of pubs date back to World War I and the government's concern about drink-induced absenteeism in the arms and munitions plants.