There was a point in my life where I thought non-alcoholic beer pointless. But at that point in time, Athletic Brewing Company didn’t exist.
Athletic’s beer, and yes, it is beer, is a source of great satisfaction in my daily routine; a break from drinking. If I don’t want to have a beer I won’t have one, but having a non-alcoholic beer on a day where I promised myself no drinking is the kind of compromise I often wish we could have elsewhere in our fair city.
My unique strain of Judeo-Christian guilt is a strong one. It combines 18th-Century French Catholics who emigrated to Maine and a Czech grandfather who survived the Holocaust only to see his siblings and cousins murdered in death camps. My ancestry is as light as a neutron star.
It means a lot to me to keep my word. And that word is: I’m taking a day off drinking alcohol. The rub is that even though I am not having a piney, beautifully bitter IPA, or a deeply malty, bready-sweet Oktoberfest, I still want the things that come with a beer at the end of the day; reflecting on the morning and afternoon with the clarity that only comes in the evening. With my wife, we’re questioning how virtual school is going, and asking if what bothers us is really bothersome to the children in our son’s class? Thinking of the things we’re grateful for despite how anxious and stressed we feel with the lack of a national plan for recovery and failure in letting science govern instead of politics.
On top of all that I am grateful for, Athletic’s non-alcoholic Run Wild IPA and Oktoberfest Festbier are two others. They’re both under 0.5% alcohol by volume. For reference, this is less than the alcohol by volume found in soy sauce. Run Wild has 70 calories and 16 carbs and Oktoberfest has 80 calories and 14 carbs and as a type 1 diabetic I really appreciate this label transparency. It’s hard to find in the beer world. For reference, Pilsner Urquell has 16 carbs and 156 calories and Sierra Nevada Celebration–it’s almost time!–has 19.4 grams of carbs and 214 calories.
I’ve reached a point in my life where I understand the need for non-alcoholic beverages. Even if you don’t, that’s OK. I don’t understand the need of a lot of beers but I am loath to “yuck someone’s yum” as editor emeritus Bill DeBaun has said many times before. So, drink what you like. And if you like to keep your promise of no alcohol but still have a sit down beer at the end of a long day I highly recommend you taking a non-alcoholic beer into consideration.
Speaking of Bill DeBaun, I reached out to him to get his input on non-alcoholic beer. Not surprisingly, he had some things to say:
Like many other beer drinkers, I’ve spurned non-alcoholic beers (and cocktails) in the past, although I did realize a few years back that O’Douls Amber was palatable. After some life and diet changes made me drop alcohol earlier this year, I soon came to realize I just flat out missed beer, the ritual of opening a beer after a long day, the finding new beers to try out, and, of course, beer’s refreshing nature. It was a happy day indeed that I found non-alcoholic Weihenstephaner tucked into the corner of a shelf at Columbia Heights’ Odd Provisions. It was an even happier day when NRG’s Tim Liu suggested off-handedly I check out Athletic.
Since then I’ve been checking out more non-alcoholic beers. I was really blown away by the single-hop Mosaic IPA I had from Athletic, but I’ve also tried some of the macro brewers’ efforts. Of these, I like Heineken 0.0 best, but I still feel somewhat traitorous buying it. I’m looking forward to more craft breweries trying their hand at this moving forward (I hear Sam Adams has a N/A hazy in the pipeline). For all kinds of reasons people are curtailing their alcohol consumption; it’s nice to be able to do that without completely losing the beverage we all like so much.
So thanks to Bill and those who support one another. Keep supporting each other as best we can. I promise you, dear reader, I will do the same.
Full disclosure: Athletic sent me a six pack of the Oktoberfest. More disclosure: I bought a six pack of their Run Wild IPA from Churchkey Beer Shop. Drink what you like!