It seems like a lot of public opinion about Heathen rituals is that they are just excuses to get drunk. Given that many Heathen rituals do involved ritualized drinking, and more consumption than the sip of wine offered at other Pagan rituals, it is easy to see where this stereotype originates from.
While I have no doubts that some groups use ritual as a reason to get sloshed (just as some neo-wicca groups use ritual as a reason to have orgies or partner-swap), I don't think that all groups do this. I don't even feel like most groups treat drinking in ritual like this.
I've read quite a few accounts of Symbel, which includes ritualized toasting with alcohol. While it can get extensive, with many rounds of toasts (and if you have quite a few people, this could definitely lead to being tipsy), if you do less rounds or have a smaller group, it is definitely possible to participate without being wasted. And I would be willing to bet that some groups allow non-alcoholic drinks (just like some Pagan groups have switched to sparkling juice or other beverages instead of wine).
I'm not a teetotaler. I quite like to drink, and I enjoy the feeling of being tipsy. I don't really enjoy being falling down drunk (and I definitely don't like loosing bits of time or being hungover in the morning). For me, it's all about finding that pleasantly drunk place.. and staying there. But even than, for me, is too much for ritual.
I've been at rituals, not Heathen ones but Pagan rituals, where there was alcohol, and where people partook enough that they were pretty drunk before the ritual even began. I personally don't feel this to be the right way to approach ritual. When I go to ritual, it is with the intent of connecting to something higher. I don't feel that being drunk helps with this, in fact I find it to be more of a hindrance (I'm way more easily distracted and less focused when drunk). Now, after the ritual, if there is a feast and socializing, I'm fine with getting freer with the alcohol.
Where I really have a problem with other people drinking at ritual is when their drinking effects the other people at ritual. That is just as disrespectful in my eyes as bringing someone who thinks that Pagan ritual is a ridiculous idea and constantly feels the need to point this out to everyone there.
Back to the idea of Symbel. Perhaps it is because I am not part of an actual Heathen group, and have never participated in one, but the feeling I get from Symbel is not the traditional worship type of ritual, but more a group bonding type of ritual. It seems like the focus is on sharing of the self, toasting (to recognize and honor) deities, heroes and ancestors that are important to you, and setting intentions for the future. In this light, even if the drinking got a bit heavy handed (and as the rounds went on, it has that potential), I don't see it as being as disruptive as the same level of drinking at a traditional ritual.
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what we feel is right in regards to intoxication at ritual. And part of that decision should be the beliefs of the people you participate in ritual with. As with any group gathering, sometimes your ideals will not mesh with those of the greater group. If you are working with a group that prefers to take rituals to a place of drunken debauchery, and that is not something you feel is appropriate, you might need to look for a group that you fit better with. Likewise, if you enjoy being a bit drunk at your celebrations, but your group doesn't seem to approve, you might want to talk with them. You may not even realize that other people are uncomfortable with your level of intoxication. Sometimes discussion can help clear the table, and compromise can be reached. Sometimes you may need to seek out others who better fit with your own preferences.