I’ve had a lot of beer in my life, and that’s an understatement. In fact, I drank beer every single day for the vast majority of my adulthood.
I used to say that I loved the stuff. I couldn’t get enough of the bitter hops, always searching for the strongest IPAs I could find.
During my drinking years, I was really into craft beers. Despite drinking so much, I was always happy to shell out extra cash for the expensive booze. I spent hundreds of dollars on beer every month, thousands each year.
Of course, drinking every day wasn’t healthy — physically or mentally. Underneath my so-called love for beer was a poorly disguised addiction.
I wasn’t a “beer lover.” I was an alcoholic.
Near the very end of 2016 I got sober. Despite my love for beer, I knew that if I didn’t cut it out of my life, I’d end up killing myself with it.
During the four and a half years since I quit drinking, the non-alcoholic beer market has exploded. Sobriety has gone mainstream, and the beverage companies have taken notice.
Just ten years ago, non-alcoholic beer was widely considered to be tasteless garbage. These days, I’ve heard it can be just as good as the “real” stuff.
However, despite these advancements, I haven’t tried a single sip of non-alcohol beer since getting sober, and I never will.
Because I never really loved beer at all.
Sobriety has a way of waking you up to the lies you’ve been telling yourself. I spent years telling myself I was a beer lover — a true connoisseur of the beverage — only to realize after getting sober that my “love” for beer was just a facade to enable my alcoholism.
The simple truth is that when it comes to taste, I never really liked beer that much.
I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of people who genuinely love the taste of beer — just that I was never one of them.
Beer was fine, but I never really preferred it to soda, coffee, juice, tea, or even plain water. I only had myself convinced that I preferred it because it helped justify drinking so much.
I felt better about getting drunk every night when I could tell myself that I was doing it for the taste, and not because I was hopelessly addicted.
As I was drowning out my problems with alcohol, I was distracting myself with thoughts of hops and fruity seasonal flavors.
However, even my taste in beer betrayed the true reason for my drinking. As I was busy searching for the most bitter and hoppy beers, I was really just trying to find the drinks with the highest alcohol content.
Once I quit drinking, I realized fairly quickly that I didn’t miss the taste of beer one bit. Beer had just been a means to an end: getting drunk.
I have a second reason for not wanting to try non-alcoholic beers: I’ve grown to resent beer for all the years of my life I wasted with it.
That may sound kind of funny. Beer is just a drink, an inanimate object. It was my alcoholism that turned it into a problem.
However, it’s hard for me to look at a beer and not think about the decade of lonely nights sipping the drinks on my couch.
A non-alcoholic beer would still be a bitter reminder of those miserable drunken years.
I’ve seen a lot of people discuss non-alcoholic beer in terms of whether it’s safe for recovering alcoholics. Is it a slippery slope? Will non-alcoholic beer lead to alcoholic beer? Chelsey Flood wrote a great article about this just a couple of weeks ago.
These are important concerns, and something that anyone in recovery needs to be careful about. In my case, though, like Chelsey, I don’t believe that having a non-alcoholic beer would have any negative impact on my sobriety.
For me, the issue with non-alcoholic beer isn’t the safety, but simply that I don’t want to drink it. I don’t begrudge anyone who chooses to have it, because it can be a great, healthy alternative to alcoholic beer. But, I’d rather forget about the taste of beer forever.
I’m sure that the non-alcoholic beer market will continue to grow, and that for some recovering alcoholics it will be a great alternative. However, it’s a path that I have no interest in going down.
Just a seltzer for me, thanks.