I read with amusement your assertion that beer consumption in Australia had fallen to just 4.23 litres (7.5 pints) per person this year... I can confirm that beer-drinking is at a 65 year low. But as a proud Australian undergraduate who is aware that bob Hawke, our former prime minister, downed a yard glass (2.5 pints) in nine seconds at the Turf Tavern whilst at Oxford, I can't help but contest this. The figure you quoted is for the pure alcohol content of the beer. In terms of volume, we drank 98 litres per head (172 pints) in 2011.Dan and I often go back and forth about heavy drinking in the midwest. Regardless of the statistics, it is shocking for anyone from another state (unless it is the north like Minnesota or Wisconsin) to see the insane level of drunkenness you see at a Cubs game on a summers' day or during St. Patrick's day here in Chicago.
Although I have a rule of thumb which is "don't try to keep up with Australians, Irish or British" each of which was learned by trying to do that very thing and failing on many instances.