When Dan Andrews announced the release from restrictions in Melbourne he was inevitably asked by a journalist, ‘does this mean it’s time to get on the beers?’. Television coverage of the much-awaited news showed people clinking champagne glasses and announced that we’ll finally be able to meet our mates at the pub.

As we start to edge towards a return to our former lives, some have suggested that there is an opportunity to consider which parts of our previously busy lives were actually meaningful and which parts were unnecessary. One of the things you may want to consider as part of your reflection is the role alcohol plays in your daily life. 

Alcohol, helped along by alcohol advertising, takes a lot of credit for activities that would feel great anyway. It rides on the coattails of many of the happiest and most exciting events of our lives. Case in point, a Richmond supporter would have felt amazing at the final siren on Saturday night whether they’d been on the beers or not.

It is more than possible that catching up with friends and family after all this time apart will evoke feelings of happiness and pleasure whether you have full-strength booze in hand or not. What’s not to love about sitting outside in the sunshine with your nearest and dearest, chatting and laughing and enjoying delicious food and drink. And if those situations don’t feel good or aren’t tolerable without the booze, then perhaps now is the perfect time to reflect on that too. 

The good news is that the non alcoholic drinks industry is taking off in Australia. For years, faux alcohol was extremely disappointing. A few dusty bottles of sparkling grape juice and some watery, flavourless beer in the supermarket aisle. A lot of alcohol-free beer, wine and spirits are now being produced by the same method as the real stuff and then having the alcohol removed. The result is a whole new world of drinks that capture both the taste and feel of their alcoholic relatives.

What’s the point you ask? And I understand the question. For years I did not know why anyone would drink a light beer. They didn’t taste very good and didn’t make you feel any different. Why not just have a coke. I once purchased reduced-alcohol sauvignon blanc and couldn’t even bring myself to open the bottle. I ended up taking it to a barbecue and leaving it there (what a terrible guest). 

But there are lots of reasons to choose alcohol-free drinks. For those who enjoy an adult beverage but can’t drink alcohol because they are driving, for religious reasons, pregnancy or health issues (mental or physical), these drinks provide a great way to feel like you’re not missing out at a social event. 

As a long-time drinker, first-time sober person, I know what you’re still thinking. Why would you drink if not to feel the effect of the alcohol? You drink to feel good and have fun. You drink for the buzz. You drink to relax. To reduce your inhibitions. To connect with others. You drink to wind down. You drink to block out the world - a world which has been incredibly challenging this year. 

If like me (and many others according to the stats) you noticed your drinking increase this year, alcohol-free drinks may be a useful tool in your toolkit. I am part way through a personal 100 day alcohol-free challenge and these drinks have really helped me. Surprisingly, even without the alcohol, having a G&T in my back garden on a sunny afternoon still feels relaxing and enjoyable. Opening a non alcoholic beer does help mark the end of a work day. Which goes back to my earlier point, how much credit should the alcohol get for these moments? 

Of course, not all alcohol-free drinks are created equal. Red wine seems particularly tricky and white wines can still be too sweet. The great news is that as this category takes off the range continues to expand and lots of people are starting to review what’s available. Another cautionary note, for people who are struggling with serious alcohol dependency, these alcohol-free drinks can be triggering and lead to relapse. In the sober and sober curious community there is a divide as to whether alcohol-free drinks are a good idea. But as with most things in life, do whatever works for you.  

I haven’t tested out my sober status in the real world yet. But when I do, I will be taking my alcohol-free alternatives with me. Perhaps you’d like to join me?


You can follow Sarah @sober_in_the_suburbs 

November 02, 2020 — Sherif Goubran
Tags: Champion

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