How exploring alcohol free beers turned my life around.
Dad life, a dangerous night in Krakow, and a life-changing decision. Discover how exploring alcohol free beers has made a difference to Tim Jenkins, the legend behind the ‘Alcohol-Free Explorers’ blog.
In this guest blog by Tim, we discover how his interest in AF beers was cracked open.
Gigs, Football & Rugby – It All Involved Alcohol.
Alcohol has been a big part of my life for many years, from the time I turned 18. It has been more a less a part of everything I have done. Be it going to gigs, football matches or rugby matches or just socialising with friends, it all involved alcohol.
For years there was no real problem. I had many a great night out and enjoyed myself. Yes, sometimes I drank too much but never really saw it as a problem thing.
In my mid 20’s, I started going to beer festivals and really enjoyed trying all the different beers. While there, I enjoyed chatting with others to find out what they liked about the drinks too. I also started getting beer boxes at home so could carry on trying these beers at home.
Becoming a Dad.
When I was 30, I became a dad. This obviously limited the occasions I could drink. When my son was about 18 months old, his mum started having some mental health issues. She found herself regularly getting in trouble with the police.
This went on for a few years with me trying my best to help. But, in the end, she ended up getting sent to prison for a short time. I realised that I had to put my son first and take him away from the situation. So, I ended up getting custody of him and become a single dad.
My family were not local and I only had a really small support network in the local area. These obviously limited times that I could go out. On occasions when my son was being looked after elsewhere, I would go out and drink.
Quite often I would drink to excess and this would cause my behaviour to change. People noticed it and would liken me to the Hulk! Without the drink, I would be this quiet individual but, when I drank I would turn into this beast and become aggressive and obnoxious.
The Lonely Side of Drinking.
Over time, this caused problems with friends who were doing their best to help me and support me. But, my behaviour was pushing them away.
I would find myself going out drinking on my own. Sat in a pub drinking, the idea in my mind would be to meet people, but it just ended up with me drinking and acting the fool to draw attention to myself. I carried this on for years putting my self in situations that could have either turned out dangerous for me or me getting in trouble.
It took a good friend to tell me that they couldn’t have anything to do with me any more if I carried on like I was. They had tried their best to help me but it had got to the point where I was shoving things back at them and not listening to what was being said.
So, I took a bit of a look at myself and what I was doing.
I was diagnosed with depression and saw a councillor. They helped me to see there were some things from my past I probably needed to deal with and the alcohol was being used to push these feelings away.
One (Ugly) Night in Krakow
I started to cut back on my drinking but still would drink at times, convincing myself I could control it. But, I still at times would drink more than I should have. It came to a head really when I took a trip to Krakow and on the first night went crazy. I started with a few pints and then ended up going onto shots of vodka and woke up the next morning with my phone gone and a large sum of money taken from my bank account!
This made me look at what I was doing again and how dangerous this could have become. I really needed to change things before something really bad happened. I once again cut back on the drinks but was still drinking when going to sporting events or gigs. But always at the back of my mind was I needed to limit myself and feel for a few more months I managed.
Then BOOM along came COVID! And, I started finding myself going back to drinking a lot at home during the lockdown. I was ordering from beer clubs and drinking on Friday, Saturday nights probably more than I should have.
A Big Surprise!
Then, round about my 40th Birthday, I discovered an alcohol-free subscription service called Sobersauce. Now, up until this point, I’d have laughed if people had suggested it but, I thought why not give it a try.
To my surprise, I discovered that the beers were actually quite good and what I got from trying different alcoholic beers I could also get from the alcohol-free ones.
It’s the different styles and tastes that I enjoy trying not the alcohol itself.
I also discovered there’s a great online community, always happy to offer advice on different beers and compare thoughts on the beers.
I have enjoyed doing this and have now tried over 150 different alcohol-free beers from many breweries and started an online blog on the subject called Alcohol Free Beer Explorers.
Looking for alcohol free drinks? Check out our store!
Exploring Alcohol-Free Beers on the Better Without App
Going forward, as things settle back down and we can start getting out and about again, I’d like to try and arrange to meet up with some other alcohol-free beer drinkers and visit different bars around the country.
One thing I can see being really helpful for this is the better without app which is a new app aimed at the alcohol-free community that lists alcohol-free beers. In the future, they’ll also list venues with great AF options that you’ll be able to add to wishlists, making planning the visits a lot easier.
Exploring Alcohol-Free Beers in the Pub
Another great thing I’m seeing being set up is fully alcohol-free pubs like the YADA Collective.
These would provide a pub-like atmosphere where you could go to meet people and have a chat over a nice non-alcoholic drink.
For me, these would probably be the ideal venues!
They would offer a more relaxed atmosphere than a normal pub. There wouldn’t be the temptation of just having that one alcoholic drink which could then lead to more. And let’s face it, being sober in a busy pub isn’t always the nicest place to be.
I don’t think things will change overnight and it’s going to take time but look forward to seeing what the future holds for the alcohol-free market in the coming years.
This guest blog was openly crafted by Tim Jenkins, the Alcohol-Free Explorer