#306 – 307. Why I’m Quitting Beer.

Just casually drinking a Miller Lite in a Texas parking lot. 
Just casually drinking a Miller Lite in a Texas parking lot.

Let’s set the stage, shall we? I’m writing this at 6AM on a Sunday morning.

I’ve spent the last two hours awake in bed, mind racing. This is how I spend most mornings after a night of drinking. Today, I’m trying to put a stop to my racing thoughts by writing them down.

Last night, I went to a beer tasting at Lift Bridge Brewery. I like their beer. In the course of the three hours I was there, I had about three. I left a disaster zone. Kind of drunk, hungry, crabby and tired with a bit of a bellyache.

Beer does not agree with me.

I, however, love beer.

I love the flavor, the branding, the stories behind the breweries. Oh, and the breweries are so fun! And the thing with beer is that even when you’re at the shittiest bar in town, they almost always have nice beers. Decent wine, on the other hand, is next to impossible to find. When you do happen upon some, it costs a fortune.

In the past year, I’ve barely been able to smell a beer without feeling drunk.

Beer, specifically. Even more specifically, microbrews.

It has a lot to do with their high alcohol percentage (must everything be 7 or 8 or 12 percent?!). And the million of taprooms around town barely ever offer food (or enough food– last night, for example, they ran out of brats before I could get one) and most of them only dispense water in tiny cups. Brutal!

But the real issue is when I’m out with friends and we’re drinking beer, it’s so damn easy to overdo it. Beers flow effortlessly, they taste great and because so many beers I like are potent, it takes next to nothing to casually bump me into drunksville.

Lately, I’ve been really examining my relationship with alcohol. It’s confusing.

You know how some people really like that buzzed feeling? That’s not really me.

I don’t like drinking as a “social lubricant.” I’d much rather talk to people I don’t know very well when I’ve had little or nothing to drink.

I also don’t drink when I’m down in the dumps. In fact, the times I most prone to overdoing it is when I’m happy and having fun.

Regardless of why I drink, I can tell you that lately, every time I have more than two alcoholic beverages, I have a terrible night’s sleep and wake up at the crack of dawn feeling shitty about myself. Just like this morning, my mind races with thoughts about things I said (even if I didn’t say anything bad), how I acted (even if I didn’t do anything embarrassing), and how I feel like junk. And if I was drinking beer, I feel like junk (physically) 1,000,000 times more.

So if I typically don’t like being buzzed and I don’t want to use alcohol as a coping mechanism, and overdoing it makes me feel like crap physically and mentally, why am I even drinking at all?

This is a great question.

There are times I really enjoy drinking. I love a nice glass of wine with a meal or while reading a book/watching the boob tube at night  Every once in a while, a well-crafted cocktail really does it for me. And pssshhht, at my cabin over the 4th of July, I can down entire keg of beer without an ounce of regret (and miraculously, nary a hangover… not sure how that is possible, but it’s true!). Also, whenever I’m in Madison, Wisconsin (aka UW, my alma mater), the beers flow like wine. I while I might feel like crap the next day, I never feel crappy about myself.

I guess it’s all about context.

I’ve made a few life changes in the past year to change my relationship with alcohol. First, I really try to not do happy hour. If I have even one drink after work, it basically makes the rest of my night unproductive. I also refuse to drive if I’ve had more than one drink, which makes happy hour even less appealing.

Instead of happy hour, I offer to meet for coffee or propose a walk.

These activities provide all the good stuff associated with meeting for a drink (ie great conversation), minus the stuff that makes me feel bad an unproductive.

My next change? I am giving up beer for the next month & seeing how it goes (#306). Drinking beer, even though I really REALLY like it, makes me feel like absolute crap. I’d probably be better off without it.

I know I’m not the only non-alcoholic out there thinking about my drinking in a critical way. In fact, I recently spoke to my friend Jina a little about it last week.

She’s recently sober, but not an alcoholic.

It’s just a choice she made. I’m posting my interview with her on Thursday and I think you’re all going to find it really, really interesting. I know I did, and it’s inspired me to be a little healthIER.

If you made it all the way to the end, two thumbs up to you! I wrote this because I had to get it off my mind an onto paper (or Internet, whatever). I realize I’ve written about lots of personal stuff (this comes to mind), but for some reason, this seems especially personal. Probably because I’m exposing something about myself that I genuinely do not like. Hey Eleanor #307.

* * *

P.S. I’ve enjoyed a cold brewski quite a few times during my Hey Eleanor escapades. Like that one time I swallowed a live minnow (sorry, PETA), the time I went to a bachelor party, and who could forget the time I fried fish in my own kitchen!

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Comments (13)

  • Jaime 2 years ago Reply

    This describes me perfectly! 5 years ago, I could drink beer all night with zero problem and zero side effects. These days, my hangover starts at beer 2.5 and doesn’t wrap up until dusk the next day. I really like beer, but it’s just not worth the pain!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Definitely not worth the pain. I do love me some beer, but it’s sort of like what’s the point?!

    Sarge in Charge 2 years ago Reply

    This just happened to me this weekend. 3 beers, spaced out over 3 hours, with a full dinner. I could hardly have had a more responsible "night out." Yet my entire next day was ruined, both from the headache and the horrible racing thoughts (Was I really mean to that person? Should I open a furniture store? Why oh why am I out of aspirin?).

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago

    Yep, alcohol is a bitch. Especially beer (lately) for me. Last night I went out and had one cocktail, a kombucha & a NA shrub. It was totally satisfying and I feel like one million bucks today. More delicious alcohol-free or lite-alcohol options, por favor.

    Tell me more about this furniture store….

  • Danielle 2 years ago Reply

    that took some balls – I feel like calling you a tough broad in the highest possible way. POGS

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    There is nothing I love more than being called any kind of broad. POGS back attcha!

  • Tyler Patterson 2 years ago Reply

    I’ve always found the hardest thing that people don’t understand is the fact that you just don’t want to drink/don’t have to to have a good time. I was one to go to friend’s parties and social gatherings, have one drink, and then stop. They were always shocked. As Seinfeld would say, "what’s the deal with that??!" Good luck!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    Sometimes I think that we’re all just lying to each other about how much we want to drink! Since posting this, I’ve had so many people say, "I feel the same way!" So are we all just drinking because we think everyone else wants to, but in reality most people are just not that into it and not sayin’ nothin’? As Zoolander would say, "I guess I have a lot to ponder."

    Tyler Patterson 2 years ago

    After reading the Jina Schaefer post I was glad that she hit on the situation of the shock of other people and what they think. I think it’s just one of those social stigmas that we’ll never get over. I have never had a problem with it but some people really do. Gotta love Zoolander..

  • Ashley 2 years ago Reply

    As a fellow craft beer lover, I feel your pain. I also tend to over do it if it’s a social event and I am having fun, or am trying lots of new brews with fellow beer geeks. Compounding this is the whole self-employment aspect, where if I happen to over-do it on a weeknight and I feel like crap the next day I feel terrible about myself and all I should be getting done. Ditto the early tossing and turning after a terrible night’s sleep. (And at this point I’m pushing 30 so bouncing back….doesn’t happen. Oh to be 24 again…)

    I’ve been cutting back for financial reasons (there are so many to try and they’re not cheap!) and come down with a couple colds in a row recently (so no desire for any booze), and I have felt better overall. I’ve also been cutting my coffee intake. I have not managed to go a month cold turkey though! Good luck!

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago Reply

    To be clear, I am not going a month alcohol-free, just beer free. But in a lot of ways, I will just be drinking so much less because I drink cocktails and wine differently than I drink beer.

    Yes, that whole "hangovers get worse as you age" is no effing joke. Too many brewskis and I am down for a day or two! It’s brutal. What are we thinking?!

    Ashley 2 years ago

    Oh totally agree! I don’t drink a lot of liquor, so when I do I am WAY more thoughtful about it than going out for a few beers. If I cut out beer I’d easily drink 90% less alcohol overall. And have less groggy grain-brain mornings.

    molly mogren katt 2 years ago

    Yes, yes, yes.

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