Skip to main content

The Three Pint Buzz and Low Alcohol January

I sling my bag over my shoulders, put my earphones carefully in, push play on my new January playlist and begin the familiar post-work ten minute walk to the pub. Here I take a seat at the bar, order the bottled non-alcoholic beer offering and settle in for at least the next hour as per. 

Less than ten minutes in I can tell that something isn't right. The surroundings, scents, atmosphere and voices are all familiar. The beer has a surprisingly decent bitter finish to what I am used to in the low-alcohol style. It is slightly thinner in body but in terms of taste is more than acceptable for this slightly-dryer-than-December January. 

What it isn't satisfying though is that usual post work desire for relaxation. I am still agitated in my bar seat; anxious as ever. My eyes are skittish. I'm neither comfortable in conversation or just staring at my phone in solo bliss. I quite fancy a cigarette for the first time in about seven years. 

Beer is my vice. Beer is a pre-evening aperitif.  Beer has a function still in a dying tea time crowd. The first slump in your favourite armchair. The first drag on a lunchtime cigarette. The first feel of wind on your face after a twelve hour flight. Or, at least, that is how it can feel on many occasion to me.

Those moments cannot be filled by non-alcoholic beers. 

Like the rather unsurprising discovery that my beer preference is a 3.8% pale ale on cask, this revelation has been prevalent for many for years. It is no different than the traditional glass of wine with dinner or the fireside dram of brandy from the decanter. Heck, one of those large 8% IPA cans would do the trick too. My version, like it is for many, is around 3 pints at the end of the bar after work.

Whilst Dry January was never an option I considered, I used the first month of the year and ensuing weeks to try, for the first time, some of the non-alcoholic offerings available both in bars and at home. I did begin to sense a place for non-alcoholic beer in my life for the first time, at moments when the three-pint buzz isn’t a requirement. A Sunday at home, for example, when I am are already quite relaxed, is sometimes punctuated by watching televised football solo. I’ve previously opened a beer at this point to live the cliche. However, I realised last month that this can be completed with the mere suggestion of beer. Here, non-alcoholic offerings serve a purpose, presenting the lips with the taste without the mild poison, because in truth I don’t need the three pint buzz on my sofa on a Sunday afternoon.

There are other times when they could find a place; sunny afternoon barbecues potentially being another. I even tried a couple with my dinner at work and enjoyed them. Whatever the time or place, they exist away from those moments when my mind craves the buzz.  

For all the improvements in non-alcoholic beer over the last few years – the developments in range of styles, mouthfeel and flavours – they are still missing a key ingredient: alcohol. The one aspect they cannot replicate is that door-planing, edge-removing, linishing effect that the end of day beer provides.

Whilst many of us know that to be the case, the conversation has turned to make the enjoyment of alcohol into something repulsive. The continual lobbyists are winning the battle, convincing those of us who either work or play in the drinks industry that there may be something wrong with alcohol. Indeed, I’ve previously argued, and will again, that it is society’s determination to demonise drink that increases the problems with binging and secret drinking.

More serious conversations aside though – and I do want to have those serious conversations at some point this year - January only led to a reminder that there a few greater pleasures for me than the first sip of a full bodied, well rounded, hand pulled, beer by the pint at the end of the day to blunt the edges of life’s sharpness. There may be those that find it irresponsible to speak on the three-pint buzz but the more we deny what beer is the more dangerous it becomes. We need not deny what beer is to still enjoy all the other positives derived from its being in this industry. 

Be Safe. Be Happy. 

- Bar ery Tap


Curmudgeon said…
Yes, AFBs may be fine on occasions where you're just having a beer because of ritual, but they fail to deliver on what is the fundamentel point of beer.

Popular posts from this blog

Children and Dogs in Pubs and Bars

  I once took my niece to the pub. She was either 1 or 2 years of age. I often looked after her on Saturdays and on one of our weekly walks, for the first time, I stopped by the local pub, mainly because my friend was there with his daughter of similar age. The two kids got on well together and it was a lovely couple of hours; a perfect showcase of adult friends and their children existing in public houses. But my sister was furious. She didn’t rant or rave but her lips were purser than a 90s children’s show teacher. It was here that I learned of the effect that our childhood had had upon her. She recalls many an afternoon being bored in the corner of pubs that our Dad had dragged us to, arms folded in the corner with nothing to do, and she doesn’t want the same for her children. The idea of her first born being taken to pubs infuriates her; fearful that they would be subjected to the same unhappy experiences that she was.  I don’t recall those times in the same way as my s

The Ten Pubs That Made Me - Part 3: Dr Okell's / My Foley's Tap House and Leeds

A pint in Mr Foley's Tap House from December 2022     This is Part 3 (the fourth post) of an ongoing project. Please see the beginning of Part 0 for details.    Come the end of this journey, there may be a lesson in procrastination that I am unlikely to heed. These posts stem from a list that I made three years ago and a series that I embarked on 18 months ago. We’ve only now reached a 30% completion rate and with this post we are back to fail for the second time.   This odyssey began with a trip to Mr Foley’s Tap House in February 2022 – named Dr Okell’s bar on my first visits in 2005 – only to discover that it was closed. It did reopen by the time that the post was coming out and I managed a brief visit in December 2022. However, my July 1 st 2023 trip to Leeds, on which this post is based, is met with this sign at the door of the bar:      A quick check of social media shows an Instagram post from the day before (June 30 th ) announcing the closure of the

"They Had Their Issues, So..."

      There’s a set of garages to rent as storage units near my workplace. One of them is taken by a local florist that uses it to store flower arrangements for various events, that are more often than not funerals.   As such, at least once a week at 8am I will pass a car being loaded up with flowers arranged into heart shaped patterns or the letters M U M. It is a grounding reminder that, as I mentally grumble my way through the upcoming arbitrary grievances of my ordinary working day, a group of family and friends locally is going through the hardest time. It provides much needed perspective on days when I could do with being reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.   These little moments explain to me why it is possible for us to share a communal loss when a celebrity passes away. Grief is often a personal and lonely experience, shared between a minority of people in your life. When a co-worker loses a relative or friend, it has little affect on me, bar signing of