Tough day. Lots on your mind. Open the fridge, grab a bottle, loosen and lose the cap. Sip. Close your eyes. Sigh.
The after work beer is a ritual or ceremony for many people. It’s about scrubbing dirt and dust from the throat. Cooling down. Stamping a firm full stop.
We’ve seen it enacted in hundreds of films and TV shows over the years, too. Sarah Lund in The Killing springs to mind, slumped by her fridge, clinging to a green lager bottle for comfort as the corpses pile up.
Oh, yes, the green bottle. This is a job for a small amount of a small beer – something without a big personality.
A few months ago, with a plan to watch a film on an uncomfortably warm evening, I fancied one or two unwinders. With that in mind, I let my evening walk take me past the CO-OP. I wandered in and up the beer aisle and after a moment decided, to my surprise, to buy a four-pack of Heineken 0.0.
Let’s be clear about what happened here: I looked at it on the shelf and wanted it. I’d had it before and retained, it turned out, a fond memory of the encounter. I could have had Pilsner Urquell, or Krombacher, but Heineken 0.0 was the one that grabbed me.
So I grabbed it.
And over the past few months, that’s become a habit.
I’ve always been resistant to non-alcoholic beer. Those I’ve tried over the years simply haven’t tasted good. Or, at least, less pleasant than a glass of sparkling water.
I’ve tried quite a few other brands and, no, they don’t do the job.
Some low alcohol craft beers are technically impressive and enjoyable in their own way. The problem is that they often end up being rather intense. Very bitter, or very sweet, and heavily hopped to fill the hole. They’re not green-bottle after work brews.
No, it’s Heineken 0.0 that works for me. It is, first and foremost, not disgusting. It doesn’t taste cooked or artificial. More than that, though: it’s actually pleasant. I find it light, lemony and dry.
Other opinions are available, of course:
When I say non-alcoholic beer in this context is like liquid popcorn, that’s not a tasting note.
It’s about the part it plays in my personal slow shutdown rituals.
The bottle feels right in the hand. The foam prickles, refreshes and slips into the background.
And it certainly doesn’t make a fuss when you’re trying to concentrate on Randolph Scott, Gloria Grahame or some black-gloved killer roaming the streets of Milan.