I Didn’t Drink Beer for 30 Days (And Survived)

It sounds like more than it is.  I didn’t drink beer for 30 days.  But I did drink other types of alcohol.  Sometimes I drank more; sometimes I drank less.  I learned some stuff about myself.  And I did confirm a lot of suspicions I had about myself.  For instance:

I am not an alcoholic…

But I was using beer as a crutch.  Not so much as a way to “get through” life, but really just to ignore the nagging voice in my head that was always thinking “you could do more, man.”  Whether it was checking r/beer all the time, opening up Untappd to see what my friends were enjoying (even at 11 am PST…what up, east coast?) or just searching for the latest beer reviews on YouTube to satiate my need to see more, I was always seeking beer.

Here’s the thing: this is a perfectly reasonable hobby when you consider the amount of beer I actually consumed vs. how much I read and watched.  I have no chemical dependency on alcohol.  I genuinely was (and still am) interested in the latest brewery news or the latest releases, big or small.  I am fascinated by the constant change in tastes of people and how breweries react so quickly.  Good god, grapefruit in beer happened so fast that it was jumping the shark as it became popular.

But all of this was an easy distraction to slip into rather than facing work as it piled up or trying my hand at something new to expand my horizons a bit, no matter how small. And, it was a great excuse to get good and drunk once in a while.  Which, as I get into my later 20s, I realize it’s still fun as hell, but not conducive to becoming a better person in my own mind.  Cutting myself off made me realize that I had a lot of time on my hands that could go elsewhere.

I spent a lot of money on beer

Yeah, this seems obvious, but it’s tough to recognize when you consider that I’d come home with 3-4 different beers on the weekend.  $20-30 (nearly) every weekend adds up pretty quickly.  Especially when you consider I could purchase a quality bottle of bourbon for the same price and that lasts me easily 3-4 weeks.

Removing beer made me think a lot more

Alcohol is great at helping you not think about stuff.  It’s crazy, I know.  But, when you’re sitting sober on a weekend evening, your brain is suddenly a lot louder.  It was incredibly overwhelming at first.  I still kind of fear trying to manage thoughts and stresses into action.  But, not having a crutch has forced me to suck it up and take this action.  As a result, I’m finding myself generally more organized and on top of things.  I’m still working on it (people of the Type A persuasion would laugh at what I deem as “organized”), but it’s progress.  And it has allowed me to start asking “what else can be done to make this better?” when doing something rather than “oh shit, what did I forget? doesn’t matter, just get it done before you get in trouble.”

I really do genuinely just like beer

For a while, I worried that my beer habit was more of an “alcohol” habit and that my alcohol “habit” was more of a “dependency”…if you will.  But, I ended up cutting back on drinking quite a bit when I removed beer.  Which made me happy and also sad.  Happy because I realized that I really was drinking because I was interested.  Sad because it means that I can’t keep doing that.  But, that’s why I’m excited about all the potential for other things in my life. The funny thing is, these other things aren’t anything big. I’m talking about just being more focused on cooking. Or trying to take my work one step further. Or even just saving money to spend on something else like traveling.

As I reflect on the past 30 days of one small change, I can say that it’s had a big impact. I can also say that I’m not going to stop drinking beer. It’s delicious. But, I’m no longer going to chase down the next “have to try” beer every weekend. And, I am going to keep focusing on expanding my horizons a bit more.

Brew Review #2: Founders Curmudgeon

Founders Curmudgeon

I picked this up during my trip back to Atlanta (and Founders distribution land).  I’d love to try the Better Half, but having not tried this one, I figured it is a pretty good start.


The Facts

  • Old Ale
  • 9.8%
  • No bottling on date


The body is transparent and a dark-orange/red hue.  The head is barely off-white and about one finger that dissipates almost immediately.


The bottle says “brewed with oak and molasses” and, crazy enough, there’s a ton of both.  The oak is really obvious and the molasses kind of rounds it out.  Also some honey.  It also has a…cool smell?  Like, it actually smells cool.  Similar to the way that an old military fort smells cool when you get to the darker parts during your school tour. (How’s that for an aroma?!)


This beer has a ton of body.  Heavy mouthfeel and very maple-y.  The alcohol is very present.  With no bottling date, I would assume this is the latest version.  It is warming, though not so much that it burns.  The alcohol legs are definitely visible on the glass.  There’s also some butterscotch…and…honestly it’s like the beer equivalent of maple syrup.  So, I’ll shut up.


Founders is available in a good bit of the country, but for those like me, there’s also Great Divide’s Hibernation Ale and Fuller’s Vintage Ale.


This is a great representation of the style, granted Old Ale is a pretty broad term.  I think that it would be much better with some time.  The alcohol takes away from it enough to be noticeable.  Still, it is very good.  I’m just nitpicking (isn’t that what a review is, anyway?).

Score: 7/10

Brew Review #1: Sweetwater Happy Ending

Tired of always telling myself “you should start doing this,” I am just going for it.  On to beer review #1.

Sweetwater Happy Ending – 2013 Vintage

Sweetwater Happy Ending

This beer recently became much more significant to me as I moved from Georgia to California.  I brought three bottles of it along with me and will try to stretch them out as long as possible, if for no other reason than that they are from my hometown.

The Facts

  • Imperial Stout
  • 9% ABV
  • Best by date of 01/03/14


The beer pours pitch black with an chocolate-y, brown head.  Uncommon to the style, there is a fair amount of carbonation, even after sitting for close to 6 months. Maybe that’s not a significant amount of time for some more experienced cellar-ers, but I’ve never kept many bottles at a time because I like drinking beer more than I like looking at it.


There’s a pretty strong hop profile for an imperial stout.  I get some citrus, but not as much as a fresh bottle.  There’s also a lot of black licorice and a bit of dark chocolate.  It’s the kind of smell that hints at a thick beer.


Very bitter upfront with a tiny bite of hop.  The mouthfeel is medium and velvet-y.  It doesn’t coat your tongue, but it definitely lingers.  There’s no alcohol presence at all.  I have had this fresh and it tends to carry a little heat, so it mellows out really nicely.  A lot of chocolate upfront followed by a coffee aftertaste.  Very drinkable.


I think the one thing missing from beer reviews is comparable beers that are widely available.  Sure, it may not always be exactly right, but why would you read this review if you weren’t able to get this?  With that said, here are the widely-available comparisons: Sierra Nevada Narwhal, Green Flash Double Stout.


I think that this is much better with some age for two reasons: the hops and the alcohol.  Both of those are pretty strong in the fresh Happy Ending, so I am looking forward to trying this again with even more time.  I think this is a good representation of the style and is the kind of beer that, if it was available nationally, would be looked to as a par-for-the-course beer.  If you’re in my hometown, buy a sixer and save a few.  You’ll be glad you did.

Score: 7/10