Big ABV in the Youngsters vs Low ABV in the Oldsters: WHY AM I SO DAMN OLD NOW?

June 22, 2021

I freely admit that I am an old man.

Old Joel vs Young Joel

Absolutely nothing, besides telling someone how much I saved on something innocuous, makes me happier than breaking someone’s spirit regarding something they hold dear. Like the other day when I told this young buck “Don’t bother offering me a sip of your smoothie seltzer there, big guy. Where I come from we don’t drink smoothies, except after a hot yoga session or before a big day at the flea markets.” I then patted my flamingo fanny pack where I store my epi-pen for bee stings and my inhaler for my asthma.

You shoulda seen his blatant superiority go flying out the window of his very soul. I don’t need some kid standing there looking all healthy, with a straight spine, absolutely zero grey facial hairs visible, a cell phone that looked only a few weeks old, a wallet as thin as three Triscuit crackers piled on top of each other, and a noticeable lack of bags under his eyes telling me which hype train ticket I should punch when it comes to craft beer, ok?

Yes of course, I am being facetious. But the point I am trying to illustrate is that I’ll ‘old man’ the hell out of ANY craft beer conversation brought up. Yet there’s one specific conversation I actually and truthfully hold myself superior in. That conversation? ABV.

Beer bottle wall


If you’re drinking two-tree 8% DDH IPAs in one sitting, colour me impressed there, big guy. You know what two 8% DDH IPAs will do to a guy like me? Puts me to sleep. And for someone who is as big of a craft beer fanatic as myself, nothing is less glamorous for a fanboy than to finish every sentence with a huge ass yawn.

When I was in my early twenties and bushy tailed (WHERE DOES THAT TERM COME FROM ANYWAY?!), more alcohol meant more energy, more FUN, more “HELL YEAH!” Now, at forty-one years young, more alcohol means “me faster go nigh-nigh”, but then I sleep like absolute trash, which means I’m even more tired, and at least 37% more ornery than normal. AND I AM NORMALLY PRETTY GALDARN ORNERY.

The days of pounding ANYTHING (besides the pavement when attending protest rallies to advocate for my friends of color or of varying identities) are long gone. The sad reality now has me looking at ABV on beer menus long before I look at the style.

Hell, I don’t even care how much the beer costs just as long as it doesn’t put me to sleep! I work hard for this lifestyle where I’m exhausted by 7:45pm four nights a week, then drink coffee at 6pm on Friday evening to stay up past 10:30pm and then sleep in until 7:30am on Saturdays LIKE A BOSS, and then can’t go to sleep at all on Sunday nights.

Joel with beer

So the only IPA on draft is 9%? That lager baby is lookin’ mighty lish right meow. That lil’ lager baby is a measly 4.2%, and that means I can have TWO of those lush puppies and not even blink an eye, because I am a galdarn CHAMP.  

Oh, the only lager on tap is a macrobrew, which I can’t drink because I get the hangover while I am actively drinking it!?! The 5% porter (which was intended to be a milk stout but came out thinner) from a local homebrewer sounds like just what the doctor ordered, AND THE DOCTOR IS ME.

Yes, I have reached the age where sometimes I just can’t muster up the potential future exhaustion to put anything over 8% in me if it’s before 8pm.  But, all jokes aside, does my paying attention to the amount of alcohol by volume that I pour inside of my front facehole make me weak? Does it make me an old man by default? No, not at all. I’m simply far more aware of what alcohol does to my physical self than I was just a few years ago.

Joel in a jean jacket

See, this isn’t a missive written in angst because my body is unable to move on from the things I swallowed and I’m angry about it, this is an honest diatribe aimed at keeping this sort of thing on the table for discussion. For some people in the craft beer community, drinking beers with alcohol in them just doesn’t work. Whether they’re allergic to something in the beer, or their bodies simply cannot tolerate alcohol, or they’re in recovery, etc.  As my friend Tom from WellBeing Nonalcoholic Brewing has shared with me dozens of times “Two sips of alcohol and I’m Tank from Old School, so I simply cannot and will not drink alcohol”.  Anyone and everyone is still welcome at the table when we’re talking about what we love about the craft beverages we consume. As long as you’re not pushing that smoothie seltzer yak in my face, let’s complain together, shall we?  And of course, we’ll be sharing some Brewhouse Legends Snack Nut Mix while we’re at it. 

So I am mindful of the ABV of the beverages I consume, because I gots a lot of party in me, just not as much room for flammable alcoholic beverages as I used to. And that’s totally cool, yo.

Plus, kiddie cocktails are still my jam. Three cherries.