It was time for a reset. There was a lot more in my life that brought me to the decision to stop drinking alcohol, but a big part of it was midlife change. I have not held myself to any timeline for refraining from alcohol. I just don’t feel the need to drink anymore. When I stopped drinking alcohol in October, one of the things I missed was beer. Very soon after, I discovered Libra, an East-Coast-made non-alcoholic beer, and it’s good. I bought a case of Libra beer and I’ve been keeping my fridge stocked ever since. They’re not the only ones making good non-alcoholic beer. There has been a bit of a non-alcoholic craft beer boom. Now I call out to other local brewers—go for it, and an organic non-alcoholic beer would make my dreams come true, ahem, Horton Ridge.
I wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about me taking over our beer and wine fridge with all my various non-alcoholic drinks, but have found many empty cans distributed throughout the house—on his desk, by the TV and in the living room. Also, I’d already over-filled the fridge with kombucha and my other fermentation projects numerous times, so he’s used to my habits.
The most beautiful thing about my decision is how there has been a natural progression of sharing drinks within my friendships and the people we’ve had over to our house. I share the drinks I’ve been enjoying and others are interested in trying them as well. It’s totally fine if we just have a cup of tea. We don’t necessarily need a few beers. I also love to share everything I make with my kids’ friends. They are such eager and honest critics of my concoctions. I have not asked anyone else to follow my lead to give up alcohol, I have just given more options and people love it. I’ve made a host of non-alcoholic drinks, more than I can drink myself, and they don’t always get served, but there is no sadness for me in that. The beauty is the opening up and freedom from expectation of the need to have a glass of wine. It’s not rude to drink or not drink. It’s not rude to ask for a glass of water. Listen to your own desires. If you feel inspired to try something new, do it! Many who decide to quit alcohol forge ahead to limit or omit alcohol because of necessity or determination or burn out. As with many things in life, reframing as possibility and opportunity is more sustainable.
Now that I’ve spoken about Libra beer so fondly, I need to share a recipe for a beer cocktail I’ve been drinking and testing for the last while and I haven’t tired of it. I was initially inspired by the idea of a radler, which is a more summery light beer cocktail with citrus. I thought, why not take a more wintry, seasonal spin on the radler. I love the blend of tart and bitter. Stouts are bold and fortifying in the winter and I love to marry chocolatey flavours and fruit. When I think of winter fruits, citrus comes to mind, but so does pomegranate. It has such a pleasing richness and tartness. I’ve also been pairing my chocolate flavours with pine needles this winter, so why not add that too! And of course some orange peel and ginger. So here is what I came up with: a pine, pomegranate, ginger stout. I hope you’re as hooked as me.
For the pomegranate concentrate
1 bottle (473mL) pomegranate juice
1.5 tsp dried orange peel or 1 tbsp fresh orange peel (be sure you get only peel and not the pith (the white part)
1 Tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)
A handful of fresh or dried pine needles
3 Tbsp freshly grated ginger root
Pour pomegranate juice into a small saucepan and add orange peel, cocoa nibs, pine needles, and freshly grated ginger root and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. Cool and refrigerate.
For the radler
1 can of Libra stout
2 ounces pomegranate concentrate
Handful of ice cubes
Place ice cubes in a glass. Add 2 ounces of pomegranate concentrate. Pour over Libra Stout or another favourite non-alcoholic stout (Partake is another good brand available at the Superstore)