After an annoyingly enlightening Dry January this year, I was on the lookout for non-alcoholic beverage options that would not only taste great but also replicate, at least in part, the ritual of a rewarding nightcap. That quest led me to Athletic Brewing, which makes non-alcoholic beers that taste amazingly like beer beer. (And high-quality beer at that; their Hazy IPA is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.) It was no surprise then that I found myself frequently nodding in agreement—along with other imbibers, I’m sure—while reading Gabriella Paiella’s piece about how Athletic found a way to make a great product and take the social sting out of teetotaling.
And that might be the single most appealing thing that Athletic has provided people. We’re already in an existing nationwide loneliness epidemic. If you’re not drinking alcohol, for whatever reason—from sobriety to marathon training—it can add to the sense of isolation.
Even if chugging beer isn’t physically healthy, there’s something about cracking open a cold one around other people that is. Athletic proved that it doesn’t have to be alcoholic to provide the same much-needed ritual pleasure.