Why Non-Alcoholic Beer Is the Best Kind

By Ben Johnson

I haven’t had any alcohol for a year. I’m not sure I can recommend sobriety for everybody, but it did OK things for me. I don’t blame my problems on other people as much. I can finish a higher percentage of the things I start. If I don’t like something, I generally don’t do it. I go to bed early. I read books.

My life is less “fun.” That’s OK. Fun is people yelling boring stuff at each other more often than not. Fun is pretending there’s no such thing as death, or even human-scale consequences. Fun is a lie. Fun is overrated. Fun is a gaggle of 14 year olds on a 3 AM trip to Walmart daring each other to wear the Super Mario pajamas and the Barbie tiara to the checkout line and “acting casual” about it with their loudest most gratingly desperate uncasual voices while your credit card is declined and Ivan the checkout clerk with the lazy eye is sighing through his nose. Fun is waking up the next morning covered in clown makeup and wondering who you are and how bad it is.

Why did I quit drinking? I had my reasons. The reasons involved doing horrible things to nice people, and being on the receiving end of unfunny wisecracks in the back of a police car, and having concerned family members show up to kick my skull in. Not to be melodramatic or anything. My biggest reason for not drinking was to kill off the drunk version of myself. I built him up too big and let him start making decisions for me because I’m a chickenshit, and he repaid me with an appropriate degree of contempt for my personhood. OK, but I’m stubborn and contrarian enough to insist on the last word. So it’s the dry life for me, and that grinning whiskey-filled malicious bastard can hang.

I am learning things.

Like do you know what’s great? Non-alcoholic beer. It’s such a fantastic invention. You can drink it and drink it and drink it and you won’t feel a THING. It’s like drinking beer’s lawyer. Instead of getting all drunk you just need to pee a lot and then you start yawning and you realize that all alcohol usually does for you is allow you to sit in the same place jabbering about nothing for four hours with people you’re not even sure you like (one of them is you). As far as I’m concerned, it’s a recipe for a perfect night. 

Imagine this scenario: You meet up with people, drink something that signifies “beer” just enough for you to relax and be social, converse for an hour or two without saying anything particularly mean or funny or interesting, and then once your ass gets sore and you realize you’ve had about enough of the human experience for one night, you leave and go home and read a book in bed until you fall asleep at 11 PM, one day closer to the sweet release of death, substituting for contentment with the momentary relief of not having fucked anything up too badly for anybody today. Repeat forever. It’s not bad, you guys. Not bad at all. 

My current favorite beer is Clausthaler. It tastes like sand-flavored soda. I love it so much I could drink like four of them in a week. Any more than that and I get a headache. As sensory experiences go, there’s nothing better in the world than opening up an ice cold Clausthaler, taking that first big swig, realizing this is the price you’re paying for being an actual human being, and choking half to death on regret and loss.

I recommend it to somebody. I recommend it to myself. That’s enough. And I would probably also recommend it to anybody currently coming unglued without knowing it. You don’t want to know it, guys. It sucks to know it.

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