In Defense Of Non-Alcoholic Beers

Some secrets are better off shouted in an open, public forum, rather than confessed to friends in the discomfiting confinement of intimacy. This is one of them: When I'm at home, I drink non-alcoholic beer.

I am not an alcoholic; Not dieting either. And I also happen to love regular brews with their average 5% or so alcohol content and have happily drunk them in copious amounts from both sides of the spectrum, from my Budweiser-fueled high school days to the glorious Rolling Rock college years, on to my current beloved: Six Point.

So, yes, I have some explaining to do. And if you think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, then you didn't hear the nervous twitter from my life-long friends at our regular poker game this winter, when I plopped an O'Doul's on the table.

I dispelled the awkward silence that followed by mumbling, "Just getting over a cold," and the game continued.

Or, even worse, there have been times when guy friends came over and I noticed them notice the O'Doul's in the fridge; they may as well have stumbled upon a manual on erectile dysfunction next to my bed. For the next five minutes or so, they had a hard time making eye contact.

I get it. Non-alcoholic beer (which actually has about .4 per cent alcohol) has got a piss-water reputation. I felt the same until a recent family vacation to Disneyland, when I was hot, exhausted, and in need of something to take the edge off. But having to maintain my senses during dinner with my wife's friends at a faux lodge-on-steroids hotel, I noticed the St. Pauli Girl non-alcoholic screaming (yodeling?) at me from the menu. I ordered it, and it arrived, glistening in a cold sweat. And it was awesome: Refreshing, hoppy, and totally hitting the right spot.

Ever since that time, I've kept a regular supply of O'Doul's in the fridge. I drink it because I love the taste of beer, but as a father who is mostly (always) working at home and who is consistently woken up in the five o'clock hour by the delightful barks of our one-year-old, Maxine, I am also always tired. And I can't afford to be more tired because of my evening beverage of choice. Although I can drink alcoholic beers on weekends or when I really need the fix, I'm perfectly content to go N-A.

O'Doul's is my brand more out of convenience — it's good enough, but given my druthers, I'd pick St. Pauli Girl or Clausthaler. The one N-A beer I'd not recommend is Beck's: It truly earns the rep of watery beer, leaving you feeling like you've got less than when you started.

Phew. It feels so good to get this out in the open. In fact, since we're all here, I'll take this moment to tell you all about a new passion of mine: Bud Light Lime.

Or was that too much information?

What's your non-alcoholic beer recommendation? Share your opinions in the comments.